By Hilary Gowins -
It’s hard to deny just how poorly Chicago’s public schools are performing when it hits you in the face. Such is the case with Paul Robeson High School’s 2014 prom theme:
“This is Are Story.”
That image came from veteran investigative reporter Chuck Goudie, who posted this image on his Facebook page.
Some people might enjoy mocking the irony of the gross misuse of vocabulary.
But unless the organizers of the prom festivities planned the wording this way as a joke, there’s nothing funny about the situation.
Paul Robeson High School is located in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods in the city. The high school also is part of the failing Chicago Public Schools, or CPS, system.
Four out of 10 CPS freshmen do not graduate.
If they do graduate, 91 percent have to take remediation courses in college because they do not know how to do basic math and school work. Just 26 percent of CPS high school students are college-ready, according to the ACT subject matter tests.
Students in these schools whose families can’t afford an alternative are trapped in classrooms that, for the most part, aren’t equipping them to succeed in the future.
But while CPS students get left behind, their teachers receive generous compensation.
The average CPS teacher salary is $76,000. The last contract negotiations in 2012 gave CPS teachers 17 percent raises over three years.
The median household income in Chicago is just $47,408. The disparity is worse in Englewood, a neighborhood where 23.6 percent of residents are unemployed and the average per capita income is $12,255.
Something’s not adding up.
Students can’t spell. They can’t do math. They aren’t graduating. And they’re not being set up to succeed in the real world.
So why should CPS teachers be rewarded with raises?
The Paul Robeson prom theme is a glaring example of just how bad things have gotten in Chicago Public Schools. The tragic irony is that Paul Robeson students picked a theme that evokes hope for the future; something every child deserves.
But until CPS changes its ways, the system will continue failing students at schools like Paul Robeson.
It’s time all Chicago students have a reason to believe in a brighter tomorrow.
- Hilary Gowins is Editor of the Illinois Policy Institute website