The Chicago teacher strike provides a valuable lesson for those considering whether to support higher school taxes. Its teachers are the highest paid in the nation and it builds lots of fancy school buildings. Yet, 79 percent of its 8th graders are not proficient in reading!
Similarily, our own school district is so bad that it has effectively been put on the states watch list. The superintendent said he hopes things will get better with the new school building. By now, we ought to know that hope and change is not a good strategy. Small-ball face-saving changes and excuses about buildings will not cut it.
The districts dysfunctional thinking is exemplified by its decision (now reversed) to deny school time to students and go to a four -day week in order to save on heating bills! Yet, instead of dealing with comprehensive reform of its failed policies, the district decided to enlist local opinion makers to talk up the tax increase. It is disappointing to see the Chamber of Commerce, of all people, supporting the tax. If its members ran their businesses the way the schools are run, the Chamber would not have any members left. The district is also appealing to emotion by saying this will be a high school to be proud of, last chance for the grant, half-price sale, one time only, etc. Is this a telemarketing operation?
Their attitude seems to be give us money now and we promise things will get better. In the real world, results come before rewards. Without fundamental reform, in years ahead kids will still be graduating unprepared for the road ahead. And the taxpayers will have millions in new debt to pay off.