What's Your Top (Attainable) Priority?

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The Tribune editorial page thinks that pushing for a Race To The Top grant is the state's biggest education priority.  Many of you involved in the CTU election process are focused on that.  But what about the rest of you -- what do you think we should (realistically) be focusing on?  What seems important and attainable to you?  Addressing school violence?  Teacher quality?  Funding?  School and district leadership?  Vouchers?  There's so much distraction in education these days -- sagging pants, immigration nonsense -- it's hard to keep focused on the things that matter most.  I tend to think that getting the budget done -- even if it's not great -- is important, and doing something to make Chicago a place where good teachers want to teach is, too.  I'm not sure what that is, however.  Ideas welcomed.

Filed under: 125 S. Clark Street

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  • I am surprised at the laok of interest in the replacement of Barbara Eason Watkins. A fundamental problem with CPS these days is the focus on anything but teaching and learning. Her replacement will be so critical to the future of CPS schools. And a lack of a replacment will also tell us much about the future priorities of the district. There should be a national search, a public discussion, an education plan and a developing focus. And it seems that nobody seems intterested in what happens with this critical personnel decision. I find this greatly disturbing.

  • Vouchers can be difficult to pull off well for a couple of reasons.

    1. Many parents aren't good consumers--they don't do their research and can actually make a worse choice than their neighborhood school (e.g. "church" schools that just do workbooks or fly by night for profit schools that don't educate at all--both of these have been seen in other school districts that have had vouchers).

    2. you can get into some pretty hairy areas when religious schools are in the mix. Taxpayers can justifiably complain if their moneys are spent for religious instruction, while there may be no constitutional grounds (if the voucher goes to the parent), it can be an issue of optics.

    This is why I support charter schools, because there is oversight (though I would like to strengthen it) of curriculum. If the taxpayers are paying for it, they should be able to determine what's taught.

  • If you're looking for outrage, don't look to the mainstream media. They're more lapdogs than watchdogs, with very few exceptions.

  • Funding inequities. The money all goes based on income and not on how good a job you're doing educating. You can sit in a 98% poverty school and do nothing and the money rolls in because the students are poor. A school on the other side of town can be doing everything right and lose its teachers, have no supplies for classrooms, everything because they are only lower-middle class and not destitute.
    I don't want there to have to be a voucher system. I think it is fundamentally unfair because it becomes a game of "if you love your child enough..." What? I'll quit my job and be destitute so I can get a voucher and take the 2 hour bus ride to the "better" school? I believe that properly motivated neighborhood schools can change. But the real problem (and sadly, it isn't an "easy" one) is no accountability for teachers.

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