We live in a time when issues with the American economy has caused states, cities and other local governments across the country to badly suffer financially due to the lack of its ability to collect its regular income of taxes from its citizens. The reason these governments cannot collect all of its taxes is mainly due to the number of citizens who are out of work – primarily because of the poor economy. There are cities across the U.S. that cannot effectively function financially, not necessarily because of any possible mismanagement or corruption but to a lack of funding from its main source of income – the people living and working there. For example, cities everywhere are struggling to support its school system, social programs, and public services. Over the years, state governments have stepped in to take over the management of those financially troubled cities, displacing the publicly elected officials responsible for running their local governments. This has happened at least twice here in Michigan where I live.
With all this going on, how is it that in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel can just give away $25.00 Walgreens gift card/vouchers to parents who don’t love their own children enough to care about their own kids’ education? I doubt Walgreens is just freely giving the city these gift card/vouchers; which can only mean that the city of Chicago has BOUGHT the gift card/vouchers with the hard-earned tax dollars of its already-cash-strapped citizens! What REAL justification is there to give away the hard-working Chicago citizen’s tax dollar to those parents who don’t bother going to the school(s) to pick up a report card and/or meet the teachers and staff who interact with their kids every day? Picking up a report card or making sure one is sent to the residence (at least quarterly in a school year) is a PARENT’S responsibility; it is NOT that of the city of Chicago or Rahm Emanuel. No parent worth his or her name ought to EVER be paid or expect to be financially rewarded or inclined to perform the duties expected and required of parenthood.
This $25.00 gift card/voucher incentive seems geared towards parents of color. In fact, let me be VERY real: it seems designed for people of color – specifically Black parents. I am not saying it’s racist,but c’mon, let’s be real: Just how many White parents are going to partake, or need to partake in this incentive? The program feeds into the racial stereotype most in society already has of some Black people when it comes to the interest and caring of their kids and their education. And if it happens to be that in Chicago, the majority of bad/irresponsible parents are Black or some other persons of color, then that alone should send a message to ALL Blacks or persons of color living in Chicago and nationwide. As a Black man and father I am insulted about this story and learning how the mayor has to resort to such an insensitive idea!
The mayor said “this [gift card/voucher incentive] could help to close the gap between parents, teachers and principals to have a united front investing in our kids’ education.” While I believe Emanuel means well and understand his intentions, his words are sound easy to say, coming from one who is NOT buying the gift card/vouchers with his own money. Funny how people in power always seem to know what to do with OPM—Other Peoples’ Money!
The citizens of Chicago, and Illinoisans as a whole, ought to be a bit irate! The citizens of America ought to be as well, for a portion of her tax dollars also goes into cities/local governments of the States for education purposes. Overall, BLACK PARENTS and other people of color who have kids in the Chicago school system (a system which just got over a nasty teachers strike) who work hard to oversee their kids’ education should be especially furious at this insulting incentive idea .
Finally, one could argue that “the end justifies the means” in this case, meaning that it is the children who will benefit. Okay…true to some extent, provided those bad/irresponsible parents actually come out to the school to pick up the report cards and talk to the teachers. Is this $25.00 gift card/voucher incentive program going to be a “one-time” thing or will a $25.00 gift card/voucher be given at every report card period to such parents?
I say let’s not reward such parents for doing what is clearly their damn job. If the city has so much tax payer money to give away, why not give it to those parents who are more deserving? Usually when a person is publicly recognized and/or rewarded for doing something exceptionally good and/or unexpected, the very act itself serves as an incentive to others to also do the same so that they too, might be possibly recognized and rewarded. However, people tend to frown upon those being rewarded or recognized for undeserving acts or for doing that which is clearly a part of their job. People will resent both the person giving the reward and the undeserving person being rewarded. That is exactly what Mayor Emanuel will be doing with his $25.00 gift card/voucher incentive program.
Parents more deserving of this $25.00 Walgreens gift card/voucher incentive would be those who come out regularly to parent-teacher conferences; who come out to school functions involving their kids, like sports, plays, and special holiday performances. Parents deserving of this incentive would be the parents who volunteer their free time – or who take time off from work or after a long day at work – to chaperone a dance, a class trip, or even coach some after-school activity. It would be the parents who don’t mind picking up the report cards of their kids and those who will meet with the teachers or principal for ten to fifteen minutes to discuss the educational progress (or lack thereof) of their kids. These parents are far more deserving of recognition and reward for such GOOD PARENTAL behavior in taking an active interest in their kids’ education. Why the hell would anyone want to reward BAD behavior in this sense is beyond my understanding.
Regardless what the reason is, I simply don’t believe the city ought to be giving away money, gift cards, vouchers or any sort of financial incentive to bad/irresponsible people simply to encourage them to do what is clearly their job as parents. Such parents ought to be ashamed anyway and feel very embarrassed for willing to take such “rewards”. Mayor Rahm Emanuel ought to also be ashamed for even establishing or agreeing to support such an incentive program in the first place.