Eighteen years ago, the U.S. Secretary of Education announced that the Chicago Public Schools was the worst school system in America. While there have been numerous attempts at reform and improvement since then, the system is still underfunded and suffers from a serious dearth of resources.
As many as 400 University students will be doing their part this year to help ease those burdens, serving as teacher’s aides in classrooms across the South Side through the Neighborhood Schools Program (NSP). These busy undergraduates help with one-on-one tutoring, student activities, grading, and a myriad of other tasks, providing invaluable support to pupils and educators alike and gaining significant insight into the challenges of urban education.
For the second year in a row, NSP has received a remarkable number of applicants, far beyond their capacity to pay all of them. While veterans of the program and work- study eligible students will still receive compensation, the possibility exists that new participants will have nothing to show for their efforts but the satisfaction of a job well done. The program’s resources are, like the system they serve, under some strain.
In recent months, the University has announced plans to establish new charter schools to serve the neighborhood, part of a wider initiative to improve our relationship with the surrounding communities. If the administration is serious about this new commitment, they have a genuine opportunity to carry through with it right now. NSP is a popular and well respected organization, with infrastructure already in place and a reputation for results.
As of now, the University and the Federal Work Study Program fund the NSP in its entirety. The Neighborhood Schools Program, a cost-effective program that aids a city school system with a multi-million budget, could benefit greatly from a comparatively small increase in funding. The Maroon strongly urges the administration put more money where their mouth is.