The Economist quotes a study finding that a quarter of American schoolchildren believe Canada is a dictatorship:
Most of the closed [Chicago Public School] district schools were in deprived areas. Nearly three-quarters of the children were black and more than 90% were poor. The report [from the Thomas Fordham Institute] concluded that “though fraught with controversy and political peril, shuttering bad schools might just be a saving grace for students who need the best education they can get.”
They do. And nationwide, many are not getting it. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, which periodically tests sample-groups of America’s children on various subjects, this week released disappointing results for history, geography and civics for 13-year-olds. Pupils showed no improvement since 2010. Most know little about history: only 1% earned an “advanced” score in that subject. Geography scores are even worse. Most did not understand time zones, and a quarter thought Canada was a dictatorship. Results have been flat since 1994.
Speaking of Chicago public services, now that Illinois actually has to follow its constitution and pay the pensions it promised, the only way to make up the deficit is (obviously) to raise taxes. Crain's takes a look at what that would mean. Despite the newspaper's general right-wing slant, even they see the logic in it:
Gov. Bruce Rauner had proposed reducing state employee retirement payments to partly close a nearly $6.2 billion deficit in fiscal 2016. But there also are big pots of money to tap, if the governor and legislators can overcome their distaste for raising taxes.
For instance, raising income tax rates 1 percentage point would bring in nearly $4 billion, eliminating two-thirds of the deficit in one fell swoop, according to one estimate. Taxing services, such as those provided by lawyers and consultants, could yield more than $900 million annually, while taxing some retirement income could produce between $1.5 billion and $2.0 billion.
“Given the state's politics and short amount of time between now and the start of the state's fiscal year, it's hard to see how some sort of temporary tax increase or tax-base broadening could be avoided,” says Carol Portman, president of the Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois, a Springfield-based fiscal policy group.
We had a 5% income tax for a short while until the legislature allowed it to lapse. Now we're back to 3%, one of the smallest in the country (of states that have income taxes). Even though it would affect me directly, I'm not only in favor of increasing state taxes to 5%, but also of adding a 1% income tax for Chicago workers (not residents) that would work the same way New York's does.
Stop trying to destroy state and city services in order to make tax cuts seem reasonable. Well-funded public services, including pensions, make cities better to live in, as Europe has demonstrated for 60 years.