Change is coming for Chicago pupils

Much to my surprise, the Illinois House appears ready to pass a significant voucher program that will allow students from failing schools to transfer to private schools with state assistance.

Committee members by a 10-to-1 vote approved the measure for a pilot program in the academically lowest 10 percent of Chicago elementary schools. Parents meeting income guidelines could receive vouchers from the State Board of Education to enroll their children in private schools that meet state education standards and can accommodate the additional students. 

Vouchers are normally regarded as a Republican proposal, but what got this off the dime was Rep. James Meeks, a Chicago Democratic Senator, who has become fed up with the second-rate public schools serving his South Side community. The proposal passed with bipartisan support in the Senate, and the Executive Committee vote (nothing gets out of it without the approval of House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) indicates that it has a good chance in the House.

The stumbling block, of course, would be Gov. Pat Quinn, who is allied with the public school teachers union in a drive to raise the state's income tax. Public school unions long have fought vouchers, claiming that it would damage "left behind" students and cost the state more. Studies, however, demonstrate otherwise. (Click on "Webliography" for references to studies from both sides.) 

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  • Do the parents in bad south side schools really think changing to a nearby catholic school really think that is going to help? It's the families people!!!! If you don't read to your kid, it doesn't matter where they go to school. Failing parents make failing schools.

  • I agree parent involvement is important, but fixing the schools, not transferring the kids is the solution. I'm a mother and I could be at the school all day, but that's not going to change a student/teacher ratio from 1:37 to 1:18 or tack the second half of the day back on to 1/2 day kindergarden.

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