Legal Law

Chicago Moves to Eliminate “High-Achieving” School Programs – JONATHAN TURLEY

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and the Chicago Board of Education are following the lead of other major cities and eliminating gifted school programs in the name of achieving greater racial and social “equity.” Eleven “high-achieving selective-enrollment schools” will be eliminated, according to Chicago Board of Education CEO Pedro Martinez, to reduce “stratification and inequity.” As we have previously discussed, major cities with failing public education programs are erasing performance gaps in their schools by decapitating the top performers rather than elevating the performance overall. Other schools have also eliminated or lowered proficiency standards to achieve higher passage rates.According to the Daily Mail, the Board will vote today on the Mayor’s plan with the support of the president. The Chicago Tribune blasted Johnson in an editorial for reneging on a campaign promise not to abolish the selective schools.President Jianan Shi has portrayed gifted programs as just adding stress by allowing some students to achieve higher levels of education. Shi declared “the goal is […] to change (the) current competition model so that students are not pitted against one another, schools are not pitted against one another.”

Some of these targeted schools are among the nation’s top performers, including Walter Payton College Prep (ranked 10th), Northside College Prep (ranked 37th), and Jones College Prep (ranked 60th). However, these schools only highlight the failure of the system overall.

One can image how thrilled countries like China must be as we decapitate our educational system to bring down both standards and schools to a low median.

As previously discussed, school boards and teacher unions have long treated parents as unwelcome interlopers in their children’s education.

That view was captured in the comment of Iowa school board member Rachel Wall, who said: “The purpose of a public ed is to not teach kids what the parents want. It is to teach them what society needs them to know. The client is not the parent, but the community.”

State Rep. Lee Snodgrass (D-Wis.) tweeted: “If parents want to ‘have a say’ in their child’s education, they should home school or pay for private school tuition out of their family budget.”

Parents who question unpopular policies are often treated as extremists.

Michelle Leete, vice president of training at the Virginia PTA and vice president of communications for the Fairfax County PTA, said parents would not force them to reverse their agenda: “Let them die. Don’t let these uncomfortable people deter us from our bold march forward.”

I have been a huge supporter of public schools my whole life. While my parents could afford private schools, they helped form a group to keep white families in the public school system in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s. They wanted their kids to be part of a diverse school environment. I also sent my kids to public schools for the same reason. I view our public schools as important parts of our society as we shape future citizens.

Teachers and boards are killing the institution of public education by treating children and parents more like captives than consumers. They are force-feeding social and political priorities, including passes for engaging in approved protests.

As public schools continue to produce abysmal scores, particularly for minority students, board and union officials have called for lowering or suspending proficiency standards or declared meritocracy to be a form of “white supremacy.” Gifted and talented programs are being eliminated in the name of “equity.”

Once parents have a choice, these teachers lose a virtual monopoly over many families, and these districts could lose billions in states like Florida.

Chicago is literally telling families of highly competitive students to leave public education or reduce their expectations. For those who can afford it, they must now look to private or religious schools. Most cannot afford such choices and the state has long been hostile vouchers. Indeed, the state (which has long been dominated by the far-left teachers union) recently became the first state to rollback on vouchers as other states are expanding such programs.

As a proud Chicago native, it is hard to watch what is happening in the city under Johnson and this city council. I still hope that sanity will take hold in the city before they do irreversible damage, but this education plan hastens the decline of one of America’s greatest cities.

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