By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
During a press conference for the upcoming State of the African American Male Conference next month, Congressman Danny K. Davis was joined by other leaders to denounce Illinois’ lack of funding for Black schools, while also speaking about programs to help Black youth.
Speaking at the Academy of Scholastic Achievement, at 4651 W. Madison on July 30, Davis said there are many problems with schools in Chicago. He said the easy part is pointing out the problems, but it is much harder to fix them. Davis and others who spoke at the conference said while legislators play a key role in solving the education gap between inner-city Black students and their suburban counterparts, it is important for parents to know they are their child’s primary teacher in life.
“We all know that education is an absolute key to being successful in this highly technical and highly service oriented society. Education is not only desirable, but is absolutely necessary,” Davis said. “But our parents must also do their part. They must check homework. They must meet with teachers when scheduled. They must support their child at extracurricular activities. It’s a community effort that must take place and we have gotten away from that approach to some extent.”
State Rep. LaShawn Ford, whose district includes some of the poorest schools and children at risk, said it is “criminal” what the state does to fund poor children’s education. He said in a country where everyone is supposed to have an equal opportunity, that is not the case for many children. He said funding the schools equally gives everyone their shot and would actually save the taxpayers money as studies have shown those who are uneducated are more likely to find themselves in prison.
“If we fund schools properly, we will not have a pipeline to prison for Black children, but we will meet their needs and they will have more opportunities to grow and compete in such a highly skilled society,” Ford said.
The press conference took place one day before Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would have provided millions in much needed funds to Chicago Public School students. Rauner’s action stopped Chicago Public Schools’ pensions funding along with money the district formerly received in the form of a block grant, in addition to other rewrites. Rauner said the veto was necessary as part of his reform plan that is not popular with Illinois citizens
. “With my changes, Illinois can achieve historic education funding reform that is fair and equitable to all Illinois children,” Rauner said.
Legislator from both parties agree the 20-year-old system used to fund public schools is indeed broken and unfair by allowing students from more affluent districts greater access to education resources. The current formula relies heavily on property taxes. But neither party has come up with a solution that everyone can agree on.
In the meantime Davis is looking forward to the State of the African American Male Conference that will begin on Sept. 8 at 5 p.m. at the University of Illinois Chicago Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Road. The conference will continue on Sept. 9 with plenary sessions and workshops.
For more information on the conference visit the website http://www.stateoftheafricanamericanmale.org/conference.html