I support better allocating current funds to operational costs, as well as using my experience on
the state and national levels for more adequate support from Springfield and Washington.
We need a multi-pronged approach: 1) the state must fulfill its constitutional obligation to fund its
share of the cost of education and we must replace City dollars lost as a result of TIFs, 2) reduce class size especially in grades K-3 to ensure that every child gets a solid start in reading and math but also programs in art, music, physical education etc. which studies have shown are closely correlated with reading and math success, 3) expand parent involvement in both school governance and in at home education coordinated with the school curriculum via home visitation programs – make learning our collective community passion via community and faith-based organizations adopting libraries for Saturday morning programs, 4) greatly expand teacher training to refresh teaching skills to latest evidence based programs, 5) return to an elected school board with a professional educator as CEO of the system, 6) explore ways to cut costs, open new revenue sources and improve instructional content such as use of e-books for text books by working with other urban mayors to break the grip of Texas on selection of text books, 7) develop a real on-going partnership with the teachers union to find solutions of school problems including an expansion of the school day and the school year, 8) expand and improve child nutrition programs, 9) recognize that testing is not the be all and end all of educational progress but is a tool in measuring educational growth – teach problem solving and divergent thinking, not just convergent thinking, 10) utilize Chicago’s rich cultural institutions to expand the horizons and experiences of all our children in science, history, art, music etc.
First, I will say that I am a proud Board Member of “Advance Illinois,” and our organization’s goal is to make our kids “world ready” by fighting to improve the quality of their education. In addition, I am the convener of the Statewide Action & Community Engagement Campaign (SAGE) and the Parents and Residents Invested in School and Education Reform (PRISE) that believes that the only way to truly reform our schools is by giving parents and communities an equal voice at the table, and helpful and accurate information about school performance. While we all know our schools have made some progress in recent years, the sad reality is that our schools are still failing. We spend billions on our schools, only to watch half the kids in Chicago Public Schools dropout or not read at grade level. What we really need is to fundamentally change the way we approach education. The problem is that no one is taking responsibility. Everyone needs to be held accountable for results. There is a lack of accountability in the school system, and as long as there is a lack of accountability, there is a lack of progress. These are a few things we need: • We need real-time information about student performance so that teachers can make formative assessments and improve instruction. • We need a fair, effective teacher evaluation process that is based on student performance as well as peer evaluation, principle’s observations, classroom management capacity and attendance.
• We need to make parents equal partners in their child’s education, and give them accurate information about their progress. The reality is that education is fundamentally an issue of our communities and our future, and there are few higher priorities.
All schools must be treated equally and fairly. We will continue with schools that already have successful programs. We will also highlight all our neighborhood schools. They should receive the
same attention as specialized schools and magnet schools. Neighborhood schools are the centers of every community throughout Chicago. All schools should offer the same quality education across the board. As I just announced, we must build upon existing “Community Schools” models to create
additional Community Learning Centers within the lowest performing schools. We will create partnerships with the private sector and non-profit organizations and these schools to create extended day learning opportunities that may include the arts, sports, technology, tutoring, and
specialized programs for students. Crucial to this model is a parent component in which parents
can also take classes such as GED or ESL in addition to being involved in programming for the
benefit of the children. Each school will continue be held accountable at the local level for student performance. The accountability must go beyond test scores. We will monitor school improvement plans, parental involvement, attendance rates, mobility rates, teacher turnover, and graduation rates. All schools must have the proper resources to get the job done.
We must provide a superior public school education for each and every individual child. We must do more than safely warehouse students; teach them reading, writing, math and science and train them to pass tests. We must thoroughly expose them to all of life’s intangibles; including the arts, humanities, civics, sports and technology.
We must empower our children to perform critical and analytical functions; and thereby appreciate their limitless potential. We must encourage and equip them to follow their hearts, their minds and fully utilize their talents. The state of Illinois must reform education Funding, and supply 51% of the amount needed to provide each child a high quality education. We must have one curriculum
common to children at the same grade level across the entire city..
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