Opinion | Raising school budget doesn’t fix issues


Photo Courtesy of TMT Photos

Teachers with the Chicago Teachers Union picket outside of the Walt Disney Magnet School in Chicago on Sept. 10, 2012. Columnist Skylar argues adding to the education budget won’t solve problems on its own.

By Skylar Bouchard, Columnist

The Chicago Teachers Union is once again on strike, leaving more than 300,000 students vulnerable. Along with higher pay, the teachers are  demanding improvement of school conditions such as smaller class sizes and more staff. Although the teachers are striking for a larger budget, it is unlikely adding more money to the budget will fix the issues present in the education system.

In the United States, Illinois has the highest rate of spending per student, yet the state only ranks 19th in the nation in terms of performance in education. This leads me to believe the issues present in Chicago Public Schools are not due to lack of spending but a result of extreme mismanagement. 

Although funding education is important, to understand big issues in government, you must look at where the funds are going.

In America when a system isn’t working correctly, our first response is to throw more money at the problem rather than trying to fix it at the root. However, throwing more money at a broken system doesn’t fix anything.

Illinois is a good example of the mismanagement of funds often present in the American school system. Nearly 40% of Illinois education spending is used to pay pensions. This type of spending serves no benefit to the state other than honoring a poorly planned contract and draining resources from the students. This shows some of the hypocrisy in the teachers’ strike, as one of the reasons for the current state of public schools is past deals with the teachers union.

    Sign up for our newsletter!

    Even when money is given directly to schools, the money is often spent on administration rather than things like better supplies. Administrators must be held more accountable, as they are responsible for managing the funds of their school and will often use this to line their own pockets.

    It is clear to me fixing the problems with CPS is a task that will take much more than money to solve; it will take major changes to the way funds are allocated as well as new ideas of how to help students.

    The culture around teaching in this state must change as well. Teaching should not be pursued with just the goal of having a well-paying government job but rather by people with an actual interest in students. 

    I hope the claims stating teachers are striking to better their schools are honest and that this strike isn’t resolved through simply raising faculty wages and not implementing any real change. Additionally, I hope  the Chicago Teachers Union is not simply using the students as a shield against criticism.

    Skylar is a sophomore in LAS.

    [email protected]