As a child, I was continuously taught that material objects do not matter. That anyone can rob you of your luxuries at any given moment; that treasuring something that has no soul makes you as empty as your morals. But in that same breath, my dad would always say that education is the one thing no one can take away from you. Knowledge and wisdom are things that should have more value than any other possession (other than family, of course).
Lately, however, the morals that my dad impressed upon me aren’t as prevalent in today’s society. The Chicago Public School (CPS) system has been falling into a depressive downwards spiral. The CPS graduation rate is only 56%; this means that just slightly more than one out of every two CPS students will graduate for high school.
Another shocking stat is the number of African American or Latino students from CPS who graduate from college. A study from the University of Chicago found that every 6 out of 100 CPS students will earn a bachelor’s degree, but only 3 in 100 Black or Latino men would earn a degree by the age of 27.
Why should we care? Why should we be concerned with kids who have no hope? This is not just a cry for attention, people; this is a cruel reality of how much our society views education. Even the Illinois government is turning their back on the subject. The yearly budget for the state does not offer enough to get CPS out of its five million dollar deficit. This means programs must be cut for students, forcing them to not have any interest in school and give up. Sports programs, deemed highly popular in many high schools, have also been subject to budget cuts. Many sports programs and other extracurricular activities have forced many students to show no interest in school and show no motivation to improve their grades. Slipping into the cracks and finally, finding no other options, students become bored with school and drop out, increasing the crime in the city.
Education is a subject no one wants to talk about because it points blame at certain individuals. Some parents point blame at educators for their child’s poor performance in school, while some educators criticize the lack of support parents give to their children who aren’t performing well. I feel that this subject is one that all of us must grow up and face.
We have all, in some way, contributed to this flawed system; mainly because we just sit around and say nothing or do nothing about it. This problem will not just go away. The efforts of every Chicago resident should be put into motion to stop this from growing worse than it already is. Talk to parents, start non-profit organizations, organize citywide protests to stop extreme budget cuts to education fund, and become heroes to those who want the same opportunities as private school students.
Divided, we fall, but united we stand.