According to the Chicago’s Teacher Union President, Karen Lewis, Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated that 25% of Chicago’s youth will never become anything. How disheartening is that to hear, especially from one of the city’s top leaders? Is this a realistic fact or one man’s opinion?
As a student of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), I read this story thinking “if this is what the top officials (the main decision makers for school reform and budgets) think of the students then of course they won’t be anything more because who is supporting them and preparing them for educational success?” From experience, I know that certain schools are under-funded and under-achieving. For years these schools have been this way and the children get passed to the next grade when they haven’t successfully learned the material or mastered the concepts. Finally, they either drop out or get passed through only to be incapable of completing a college course.
CPS is the third largest school district in the country, with about 400,000 students. If 25% are to never become anything more than drop-outs, drug dealers, gang bangers, underpaid laborers, or dead beats, who is accountable for those 100,000? There is supposed to be a ‘no child left behind’ policy in Chicago’s public school system, but if 100,000 children never receive proper funding then clearly they are getting left by the wayside. Every child has the potential to be great given that they have the adequate tools necessary for success. Additionally, who are these mysterious children that will never amount to anything? Do they live on the north side, south side or west side? Are they African American, Hispanic, Jewish or Chinese? Do they reside in poverty stricken communities such as Englewood or live in neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park?
More importantly, if Rahm Emanuel believes that 25% of CPS students will not make it, then why not try to focus some attention on why? There are things happening in this world that people want answers to…like do aliens exist? Does the light stay on in the refrigerator after the door closes? What to Google on Google? And people spend time researching to find out the answers to these questions, so why not get a research team together and begin the process of figuring out what is needed to produce better techniques to teach, better ways of reaching parents, and better ways of supporting teachers?
I don’t want it to seem as though CPS is to blame for the underachievement in students because parents play a pivotal role in their child’s development and education. If you are a parent and you think partying is more important than helping your child with homework, you need to reevaluate your priorities! There is no way a student will make it without the proper support and push that parents (and schools) are supposed to provide. School is not for babysitting (which is what ends up happening when your child comes to school and can not function properly because he is wondering if he will see you in the next few days). We have to do better. We need better social services in schools, smaller class sizes, better resources and more faith.
It takes a village to raise a child. How many does it take to tear the child down?
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