Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Illinois Entrenched School Lobby Ain't Ready for Reform

Senator Meeks is out in front for Genuine School Reform. That is a reform that begins and ends with Vouchers - the only means of getting real Accountability and Competition for Public Schools. Public Schools are Un-Accountable and Compete with no one.

Public Schools are enthralled by the Illinois Public School Lobby - a Gordian knot of Teachers Unions, Ralph Martire Industries ( Pie Charts=More Taxes R Us), Public School Vendors, Bus Companies and hundreds of tax-funded satellite Education sucker fish - our Cook County Superintendent Charles Flowers* in their many manifestations.

Yesterday, Chicago Daily Observer's President John Powers posted a great report on the legislation by Illinois Senator James Meeks to reform Illinois Public Education.

His voucher proposal would allow parents of students in the academically lowest 10 percent of Chicago Public Schools to have the option of sending their children to a private school, if space is available.

Meeks, formerly a strong advocate for improving Illinois’s public schools, said his plan comes as a result of violence and increasingly poor test scores in CPS schools.

“Right now, our General Assembly rules actually lock a kid into a low-performing school,” Meeks said. “And we have no plans to get the kid out.”

Teachers unions and parents are opposing the proposed legislation, saying that taking the students out of public schools will hurt the school system. When Meeks outlined his legislation last week to a Senate committee, the opposition was ready to speak up.

Opposition to the Meeks efforts come not from African American Legislative leaders who in the past have supported the Illinois School Lobby,. . .

State Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-Chicago, serves on the Senate committee and supports Meeks’ plan. Although vouchers have historically been a Republican idea, Hendon said he believes the city of Chicago needs this option.

Hendon said CPS is failing the students in the bottom 10 percent of schools, and that he is tired of seeing the violence.

“We’ve been saying we’re going to educate out babies. We’re going to fix the schools. We’re going to find solutions,” Hendon said. “And nothing has changed. Absolutely, positively nothing.”

State Sens. Bradley Burzynski, R-Sycamore, and James Clayborne, D-East St. Louis, also voted to move Meeks’ proposal forward. It now goes to a Senate education subcommittee, where it is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday.

. . . but from the Blue Stocking Lobbyists.

Ben Schwarm of the School Management Alliance said the program is not realistic because of funding issues. He said there is no way to know how many students will participate in the program until the school year starts.

“We don’t know how many of our students are going to leave our district,” Schwarm said. “We don’t know how many students from other districts are going to come to our schools on enrollment day because they don’t live here. And for planning purposes, setting a budget and so forth, that raises some problems.”

Well done Senator. Hammer them!

* Supt. Charles Flowers:

The Daily Southtown newspaper wrote a detailed article exposing the corruption and failure of Charles Flowers as Superintendent. Here's the article and reporter contact information below:

When Charles Flowers took over the reins of the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education two years ago, critics were skeptical of his baggage.

Flowers, a former special education teacher and administrator, has a history of questionable financial dealings from his days as board president at west suburban Maywood-Melrose Park District 89. But he came into office in 2007 vowing to root out corruption and bring reform to Cook County public schools.

Once he became regional superintendent, Flowers hired relatives and friends and then began giving employees salary advance loans. Then he went to Cook County government for an emergency loan, which the regional office has yet to repay.

In April, the regional office couldn't make payroll and earlier this year the department didn't pay its group health insurance premiums on time, leading the company to temporarily cancel workers' health benefits.

So where's the money?

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