Don't just throw more money at CPS

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Arlene Jones

The news that Chicago Public Schools Supt. Jean-Claude Brizard is calling for more tax money for the schools didn't put a smile on my face. With a budget bigger than the entire city's budget, what CPS does with all the money it gets is a mystery to most.

After years of privatization, increased classroom sizes, school closings and the opening of many charter schools, the engine that drives CPS is still in search of more cash. Why? Will it be cash that won't solve the problems?

What many don't want to admit is that if the schools took a hard line and made parents accountable for their role in their children's education, the majority of problems within the school system would clear up overnight.

It is parents who have their children for up to 19 hours a day. It is parents who should make sure their children go to sleep so they are rested for the next school day. It is parents who can make sure the children have a healthy meal so their brains have the proper fuel to work from. It is parents who should read to their children and encourage those children to read to them. It is parents who hinder their children by having them show up at age 3 and 4, not speaking English even though they were born in this country, and then expect the taxpayers to fork over the dollars so their children learn English. It is parents who should be responsible for making sure the homework gets done. It is parents who send and take the children to school.

Yet the Chicago Board of Education call for more tax dollars won't put more money into the hands of the parents. Years back, many parents could get a job at the school in the lunchroom. The Board of Ed is not trying to create employment during these harsh economic times. Rather, the board has its hand out with no evidence of how well they have managed the money they already had.

I was glad to hear that several aldermen aren't buying into the tax increase although our recently-moved-back-into-his-house Mayor Emanuel is. One alderman is saying that the city should look into TIF money and I concur. TIF money is sales tax dollars and since the previous mayor used that money like it was his own private piggy bank, it would be nice to see that money go for something tangible and not another tax break for wealthy businesses who don't need it.

Has the city done a forensic audit on the schools? With a budget of over $6 billion, I'd like to know where the money is going and for what. Where can the fat be trimmed? Are the schools ordering books in Spanish, then delivering them to predominantly African-American schools where they end up in the closet or dumpster? Are children who are proficient in English still being kept in bilingual education because their parents want them there, not because an educator or counselor has deemed it necessary?

The Chicago Public Schools are a mess and throwing more money at it won't solve the problems. It is time for taxpayers to take a hard stance and tell CPS - enough!

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