GUEST COMMENTARY: East Chicago School Board making progress, not there yet

2014-01-21T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: East Chicago School Board making progress, not there yetBy Tony Barreda nwitimes.com
January 21, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Literally thousands signed petitions supporting an elected school board because of the downward trend in the delivery of education for the young people of East Chicago. Voters were disappointed, and they wanted control of the system.

Cronyism was of seismic proportion, as was evident under the previous superintendent and school board. Arrogance and greed became the rule and not the exception. And the people said no more!

Comes now the new elected school. They have taken big steps in an honest effort to upgrade the level of education in the system. They have partnered with the Foundations of East Chicago and Calumet College of St. Joseph, settled all lawsuits while incurring none, re-established partnerships with the Challenger Learning Center and the Dunes Learning Center, and are practicing an open dialogue with the unions, AFT and SEIU.

But governance goes beyond hard services. It must include morale and image building. Pride in being a student of the School City of East Chicago must be re-established in the minds of the parents and students. The board has taken steps to do just this by acknowledging two teachers of the year, honor students and athletes.

However, the onus is still on the board to do more. The drop-out rate is still very high. The grades in reading, math and science desire more commitment.

Let us also admit the onus is on the parents and students alike. Discipline must be exerted by the parents. It is not enough to tell kids, "Get up. You have to go to school," or "Did you do your homework?" No, quality time should be allotted to the child. Parents should follow the child in their studies, follow them in their friends and in their religion.

Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the key to liberty." The chains of poverty, of unemployment, is a self-imposed sentence. Free yourselves, young people. Listen to your parents and teachers. Equally important, listen to your dreams, your hopes.

To the board and teachers, keep up the good work.

Tony Barreda is an East Chicago resident. The opinions are the author's.

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