Forum: Stand for Children doesn’t get it
March 8, 2012 8:06PM
Updated: April 10, 2012 11:51AM
It was disconcerting to read that Mary E. Anderson, executive director of Stand for Children Illinois, can so easily reduce Chicago Public Schools’ parents’ genuine concern about the quality of education to just a few parents worried that their children’s “after-school activities might be disrupted.”
No, Ms. Anderson, we are not just a few parents, and we are not only worried about the hours after school. We are concerned about every minute of our children’s education.
Ms. Anderson writes that all CPS students need more time on core subjects and on enrichment, and teachers need to collaborate more than they do now. But the grim reality is that the system is near bankruptcy. We have to ask, how can CPS add high-quality learning supports to every school without more funding?
Ms. Anderson also claims the great majority of parents want a longer school day. But a look at online petitions show more than 7,000 signers against the longer day and year, including parents from every part of the city.
Ms. Anderson says research shows low-performing urban schools need 30 percent more class time to improve, but we cannot find any research that says simply adding more time is the answer. Quality is the key. We invite Stand Illinois to supply its evidence and discuss it with us in an open forum.
U.S. Department of Education statistics indicate that the average school day in the U.S. is 6.6 hours long. In Illinois, it is 6 1/2 hours long. A 71/2-hour elementary school day would be the longest in the nation by far.
We wholeheartedly agree that students in underperforming CPS schools should be our first priority. We are terribly saddened that Chicago has about 10,000 homeless children and that 31 percent live in poverty. But without funding for services from social workers, reading coaches, art and music teachers, how can CPS keep its promise to help the children?
Take extra care on 86th Avenue
Palos Park shares its borders with the Cook County Forest Preserve District. One bordering road is 86th Avenue, where the posted speed limit has thankfully been lowered to 35 mph. But this scenic, unlit road has a hilly topography and extremely dense forest line that combine to pose a safety concern to the community and motorists.
This area is home to a high concentration of wildlife and horse traffic as well as pedestrians, runners and bicyclists. The road is only two lanes, has no sidewalks, minimal shoulders and contains areas of limited visibility due to the hilly terrain. Motorists on this road need to be very attentive.
The village’s rural roads are routinely accessed during rush hour as cut-through streets to avoid the busier main streets. The mild winter has allowed individuals to enjoy more outdoor activities. With spring approaching, this area will be more highly used by the community. It’s easy to become distracted with the beauty this area offers, but it would be gratefully appreciated if motorists would make a conscious effort to focus only on their driving and following the speed limit.