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Friday September 21st 2018

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Public Schools In Crisis: Will Children Be Victims of A Failing Economy Today AND Tomorrow?

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I’m sorry – when I read stories about the economy getting better, I just don’t believe them. There’s a man who stands sweltering in the hot sun, holding up his “Jobless, please help” sign near the entrance to the interstate every day. There is at least one Facebook friend daily announcing they, too, have become a worried statistic. There is the couple I know who took the offer of “loan modification” while, both working for the same company, they were fired at the same time. The loan runs until they’re something like 110 years old. And then there’s little ol’ me, who’s “position was eliminated.”

And then there are the teachers…five here, ten there. A very small town near where I raised my kids made the national story in USA Today by firing 25% of its teachers.

A July 6 article by Rosalind Rossi, education reporter for Chicago Sun-Times, shares two lay-off stories from the education front in an article titled, “Teacher: CPS Layoffs Set a ‘Dangerous Precedent,'” two of 226 layoffs last week, people “caught in the switches of an Illinois cash crunch that has spread like a cancer, contributing to teacher layoff decisions at CPS and other districts statewide.”

DollarSignMeet Deborah Domes and Erin O’Brien. “They were among 226 ‘citywide’ teachers who are not formally attached to a classroom who were laid off June 30, without regard to seniority or tenure, in a new CPS interpretation of the teachers contract. All lost the 10-month pay cushion usually offered displaced and often less-credentialed CPS teachers.”

Now mind you, those who know me understand I’ve got something against a public school system that spends an obscene amount of money to produce less-than-stellar results. And some may feel that, having been part of the system, they’re getting what they deserve. And maybe it’s because I, too, trusted an employer unworthy of that trust that I’m empathizing with these ladies here. “My trust in CPS is gone, literally gone. If I asked someone down there what time it is, I probably would look at the clock to double check,” said Deborah Domes.

Exactly.

O’Brien, 40 years-old with two children and a stay-at-home artist dad, is nine months pregnant. With “a high risk c-section” coming up, she has no choice but to turn her unemployment check over to an insurance company.

O’Brien was given two weeks’ layoff notice, but Domes, age 59, got only three business days to decide whether to be laid off June 30 or retire early and cash in about 200 sick days — more than one year’s salary. She took retirement.

Domes figures she will lose $800 to $1,000 a month in pension payments for the rest of her life, but she couldn’t take the chance she would find a CPS job in the 10 months needed to hold on to her sick days.

“I had to take the bird in the hand,” said Domes, who is credentialed to teach the learning disabled, behaviorally disturbed, physically handicapped and grades seven through 12.

“They have already taken enough away from me. I couldn’t risk them taking any more…

O’Brien and others predicted the system’s decision to dump expert tenured teachers who advanced beyond a daily classroom could come back to haunt CPS. In the future, O’Brien said, teachers may avoid leadership roles if they think they could lose their tenure rights by taking them.

Said O’Brien: “This sets a very dangerous precedent.”

Parents, my point in sharing this story is so you may consider what is going on in the nation’s schools today, and its impact on future years of the government/public school system. Even if your child’s school is fine now, think about what may happen if, as many predictors indicate, we are in this mess for the long haul. That could be your child’s entire school experience.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to gamble with your child’s time, energy, and future. Homeschooling will allow you to provide continuity of care and education no matter what happens to the system that is running out of the stimulus money that kept them going last year.

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