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Villa Park Library infrastructure ‘worn out’
The Villa Park Library needs your help! Almost 50 years old, the infrastructure is worn out: air conditioning, heating, and the roof are all on life support. Wiring, designed for life in the ’60s before computers became such an integral part of life, needs updating. Adding a sprinkler system would bring the structure up to code and protect all the materials we already have. Looking for space to meet with a tutor or your local club or other small group? Forget the library as it is now. There’s not enough space for requests. Want to know where your teenager is? Probably not at the library since it doesn’t have space for meeting or activities suited for their age group. The lines for using a computer are wellknown. So, spend $10.6 million just to house books? Hardly the case! Newspapers, magazines, recorded books, CD’s, DVD’s, toys and other early childhood materials as well as access to computers and 3-D and conventional printers are all available to use for free! Did you know our library offers voter registration, employment resources, and tax information? Last year, 1,000 kids joined reading clubs; 8,741 people came to 573 programs; over 298,116 items were checked out; 11,794 questions were answered by the Public Services staff; 8,850 residents have library cards. Our library is well-used but worn out. Let’s talk money for a minute. Other DuPage communities spent $20-30 million since 2000 to build their new libraries. And they are now spending $1-2 million to upgrade their tech and youth services. Upgrades are already in our new plans. Our library has the good fortune to not have to purchase land for this building project. Voting “Yes” for the referendum on April 4 means more parking, a driveup book drop, a facade that isn’t crumbling, a building that could serve as a front porch to the community where people meet and mingle. It’s an investment that will increase the value of your property and continue to attract new people to our village.
Laurel Burritt, Chair Marti Seaton, Treasurer Villa Park Library Committee
America is in decline: ‘We don’t listen to what the other person has to say’
I love the United States of America. I consider myself blessed to be born and live in this country. In 1962, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps to defend this great country. However, things changed in the USA. The country now is not the same country, value wise, of 1962, 1952 or 1942. Our greatness is tarnished. Many things, persons and actions, contribute to our decline as a nation. Yes, I said decline. We have children being shot in the streets of a large metropolitan city, Chicago. It seems no one wants to do anything. Police officers are the target of violent acts. How many officers have been ambushed in 2016? Can you believe that hatred runs so deep that officers are ambushed in our cities. Protest, which is our right as citizens, too many times has turned violent. Cars, businesses and homes are burned. Instead of country-wide condemnation, excuses are offered for such conduct. A senior was advocating support for his choice of president. He was hit, knocked to the ground and kicked. No outrage. No condemnation. How are kids doing in our classrooms? Not well. Some of our children graduating high school cannot read, let alone speak in a complete sentence. What does the conversation center around? We talk about teachers unions. We talk about the cost of education. We talk about why we need a teachers’ union. We don’t talk about what are we going to do about our children not learning, and why is it happening. Compared to the world, how do we rank in math and reading scores? Look it up; you will be astonished. We have supposed leaders representing us in Springfield and Washington. How is that going? When I lived in Chicago, I was a staunch Democrat. Not any longer. My criteria for voting are to vote for the person that I believe will be good for this country. If either party knows your party affiliation, that party won’t work for your vote. They have it already. What moves things in this country? At one time, it was us. If we are deeply divided, we lost our power. Yes, we have differing opinions about things, but, we don’t listen to what the other person has to say. Maybe there is merit in what the other person is saying. We will never know because we don’t listen. It goes beyond not listening. We tend to disrespect opposing opinions by out-shouting them, hitting them or demonizing them. You want a better country? We have to be better. I’ve lived a few years and saw a better America. I would like it better than it is.
John Ritchie Lombard
Be wary of snake oil salesmen in education
By DAVID F. LARSON, ED.D. Superintendent, Glenbard Township High School District 87
As parents and citizens who value our local public schools, we should be wary of any dangerous and risky school funding policy proposals that may be proposed by our new U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. In Michigan, her record of advocating for choice and charter schools the past 20 years resulted in a “wild, wild west” landscape of abandoned school districts, communities segregated by income and poverty and scandalous stories of “for profit” management companies being enriched by public tax dollars. Because there will be little national support for Michigan school choice reforms, it is likely that she will be touting models from other states, including the Florida private school voucher plan. This controversial structure of school funding allows individuals and corporations to donate, as a tax credit, to one of four scholarship funding organizations (SFOs). These SFOs, after keeping 5 percent, manage the awarding of the vouchers to interested families who wish to leave their neighborhood school. The majority of families who apply and receive these vouchers have chosen religious or sectarian schools; however, achievement at these schools’ typically does not outperform that of the neighborhood public school. For decades, vouchers have been controversial. Voucher advocates argue that fostering an educational “market” where private and religious schools can compete in a financial open playing field will make all schools better. The assumption is that they can run schools more cheaply and satisfy consumer needs more efficiently than public schools. Just what are those arguments that cause the majority of the public to oppose a voucher system? The following are a few fundamental flaws of the voucher reform movement: • Often, families use personal religious or sectarian factors in opting for vouchers. This results in communities being segregated by ethnicity, socioeconomic status and religion. The community’s sense of spirit and identity becomes fragmented and weakened as families abandon the local neighborhood public school. • Most religious schools do not provide the gamut of services and programs to meet the needs of special education students that are offered in local public schools. They often turn away or “shed” these students, again creating a more segregated and exclusive environment. Even if required to admit students by lottery, voucher schools can later ease out students who are not performing well or are not conforming to the school’s mission. • Voucher schools take advantage of the bigger teacher labor market by hiring younger teachers with no promise of permanent employment. They can run their schools with lower salaries and minimal benefits. This “cheap labor” results in eroding the status and prestige of the teaching profession, thus discouraging bright, talented candidates from selecting the teaching profession as a career of choice. • Ideologically, school vouchers place a greater value on personal choice than the importance of equity, commonality and public accountability. Prioritizing choice over the common good is risky. Increased segregation and the loss of a common educational experience will erode the foundation of our unique and amazing democratic society. The research is clear: the factors that improve and strengthen our public schools are investment in early childhood programing, rigorous high standards for all students, strong professional development for teachers and resources channeled quickly and efficiently to the neediest students. The research is also clear that choice and market incentives do not result in stronger local public schools. We should beware of snake oil salesmen. We should all be wary of vouchers and other risky reform policies recommended by Betsy DeVos.