Jim on Education

— This page is a work in progress —
— I thank you for your patience as I more fully develop the ideas presented herein —

I would like to start by acknowledging something that I’ve never heard any alderman acknowledge:  in the City of Chicago an alderman has little power over CPS compared to the Mayor, the teachers’ union, the principals’ union, and the local parents organizations.  Aldermen do not vote for CPS Board Members, cannot remove a teacher, cannot remove a principle, cannot force or remove the teaching of any subject, and can neither approve a new school being built nor vote to prevent a school closing.  Aldermen really have only two keys powers in working with CPS:

  1. the power to pass an ordinance that CPS must live by, and
  2. the power of the office to work with the people, and utilize the media to rally behind an idea.

That said, what I aim to do is become a champion for education reform.  I’m going to call on every person in the ward, no in the city, parent or not, to DEMAND massive changes at CPS.  Solutions will come in two forms:  White Paper and Gray Paper.


White paper solutions are those that start with a clear sheet of paper.  No option is taken away from the table.  We start with EDUCATORS, not politicians, not bureaucrats, but educators.  And we ask them, “What is the best way to educate our children?”  Then we work to make their suggestions a reality.

The start of one white paper solution is here.  Another idea is to create charter boarding schools for homeless children.


Gray paper solutions are those that start by working within the current infrastructure of the existing educational system, both CPS and otherwise.  Charter schools are a gray paper idea.  So are vouchers and also Gery Chico’s educational plan.  But I believe if some really out-of-the-box thinking could be applied, then several brilliant ideas would come forward.  Particularly in the space where technology meets education.

We need to stop teaching to the “class” and start teaching the “individual.”

The solutions are out there.  We just need someone to stand-up and say “We’re moving this forward.”