30 July 2008

Protesting $10k per Pupil

AP writer Michael Tarm reports that Illinois State Senator James Meeks is advocating that students in the Chicago Public School district skip the first day of school, September 2nd. This, we are to believe, will highlight the inequities in spending between Chicago and suburban school districts. Like many other systems across the country, Illinois schools are primarily financed by local property taxes.

State Sen. Meeks’ plan is to load up parents and students “a caravan of buses” and cart them up to a suburb and attempt to enroll students in the suburban school district. The “target” district spends $17,000 per pupil. The $7000 discrepancy, according to Sen. Meeks, is “doing irreparable harm to hundreds of thousands of kids."

Somehow, I don’t think besieging suburban school districts with parents and children – children who ought to be in class – is an appropriate vehicle for change. Sen. Meeks, as an elected official, is part of the political body that can enact change. Instead of enticing students away from school for what amounts to a political stunt, perhaps Sen. Meeks should use his elected office to enact the change he desires. His protest suggests that he supports open school choice with education dollars tied to those choices. $10,000 per pupil is a lot of choice “purchasing power”. Perhaps he ought to legislate to that end.

If he is unable to enact his vision of reform – whatever it may be – because of opposition…well, that’s how representative democracy works.

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