As a parent of three elementary-age students in Chicago Public Schools and a member of the local school council, I’m asking our state and local governments to consider how extra funding that’s coming into our district is allocated. While most would agree that our students need more funding for increased instructional time, I also share the concern of many that we are in desperate need to offer more holistic support to our students including more counselors, psychologists and trauma-informed practices.
There are significant gaps in the educational experience of school-age children in my community of Humboldt Park in comparison to students at schools in other parts of the city. We need to address this gap to give all children an equal chance at academic success.
In the third grade, my son’s classmate had an aide who provided much-needed classroom support to the student and the classroom of 34 children. His behavior inside and outside the classroom made it evident he also needed better and more frequent emotional support. His mother was incarcerated, and he was living with his grandmother. How could one expect an 8-year-old child to participate appropriately in classroom activities when his home life was in turmoil?
I know in past years that our school has had only a part-time nurse to support a student population that exceeds 1200-plus children, and many of our counselors and social workers have caseloads that exceed practical standards. These staff members often work across multiple schools to support our students. It’s impossible to make a meaningful impact on children with caseloads of that size, and there are others we cannot even serve because there are not enough of these resources to get involved.
As CPS evaluates the additional funding from the state, we must ensure that as these funds come in, they are disbursed equitably. I applaud CPS for the open request-for-proposals process in 2018 that allowed communities all over the city to apply for funding to support greater quality high school options. This was a purposeful acknowledgement that all our communities deserve high-quality education options. Now is the time to take the next step to support the whole child.
I applaud Janice Jackson for the accomplishments she has made as CPS CEO. Let’s continue on that strong path to allocate funding to those who need it the most.
— Melinda Young, Chicago
To view this Letter as published in the Chicago Tribune, click here.