It's back to school day for everyone from Belgian princesses to my mom (Princess Laetitia of Belgium, pictured) but not for hundreds of Chicago public school students expected to skip classes today. They're protesting the financial divide in the Illinois public school system.
Packed classrooms, old textbooks, and a dearth of technology tips the scale between schools who have and schools who ain't got it. Up to 2,000 city students are expected to try to enroll in the tonier schools in the suburbs, distinguished for their wealth and academics, even though residency in the area is required to attend. One mom says, "I don't want to send my kids to any second-class school anymore. If I have to keep my kids out for a whole month, I'm willing to do that."
The plan might do more harm than good. To see how,
The Board of Education President Rufus Williams is urging a "boycott of the boycott," saying that the first day of school sets the tone for the year and could hinder the Chicago district's funding from the state as average daily attendance helps determine money allocated. State Sen. James Meeks, the architect of the boycott is pushing for a three-year $120 million program to bridge the gap between affluent and poor schools. In Chicago schools, $11,300 was spent per student last year compared to $17,500 in the more affluent schools.
Is a walk-out the right way to make a point? Should residency be required for school attendance, or does a pulling a student body from only one area ensure homogeneity and imbalance?