April 3, 2016

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: More Chaos at Chicago Public Schools.

This last comment is telling, because it points to a structural problem that is contributing to this dysfunction (Chicago teachers have been threatening strikes regularly for the last several years): namely, that people who live outside of Chicago, and have no voice in how the Chicago schools are run, must be taxed in order to provide the money to run Chicago schools the way the Chicago city government—or, more accurately, the Chicago Teachers Union—thinks they should be run.

A big part of blue state politics is the effort to equalize school spending across districts; rich Illinois suburbs can afford better schools than poor towns and cities, so they are asked to send extra money to Springfield to subsidize underfunded schools in Chicago. And it’s not just Illinois—state Democratic parties across the country are eager to subsidize schools in poor places with money raised in rich ones. (Incidentally, this may be one reason Democrats are struggling at the state level).

There is nothing wrong with this arrangement in and of itself—money should be redirected to children from poor families. The problem is that there is no countervailing understanding that if Illinoisans at large are going to pay for Chicago’s schools, sooner or later taxpayers will want some say in how the schools are managed. (The available evidence suggests that they are not being managed well, to say the least). But when Springfield tries to impose cuts or reforms, as it is now, political interests in Chicago fight them tooth and nail.

Remember, it has nothing to do with educating kids. It’s about graft and vote-buying.