Thank you, Senator Meeks. Heroic civil rights battle is getting real.

Meeks boycott set the stage.
Meeks boycott set the stage.

To all the school reformers, labor leaders and politicians who have criticized or remained silent about Senator Meeks for his plan take CPS students to New Trier on September 2nd: You owe him big time.

Up until now the citizens of this state have had to go begging, hat in hand, to the fools in the state legislature and the fool who sits in the governor’s office handing out million dollar contracts to his friends and cronies. Finally, people are in motion, using lots of different tactics, but all with the same goal: Get the state to meet its constitutional obligations to fund the public schools fairly and with equity.

The latest step is by the Urban League:

The 39-page suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court is being handled pro bono by legal powerhouse Jenner & Block. The lawsuit claims that under the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003, the current system “disparately impacts” racial and ethnic minority students.

(source)

The Chicago Sun-Times makes the important point:

Many, including the Rev. James Meeks, who is also a state senator, blame those gaps on the property tax-based school funding system. Meeks’ call for a boycott sets the stage for the landmark suit. The lawsuit marks the first use of civil rights law in the decades-old school-funding battle. Schools in poorer areas, such as Chicago’s inner city, have long suffered from inadequate funding.

Read Mary Mitchell’s column today. Oustanding.

Until now, the school funding disparity has been endured like a necessary evil.

But now Meeks and others argue that given the high drop-out rates, low college attendance rates, and high incarceration rates, those concerned about this issue can no longer sit back.

The lawsuit could create a sense of urgency that will force parents to take notice.

Jenner & Block, a firm that is known for its aggressive representation of government officials, intends to seek a temporary injunction that forces the General Assembly to tackle the problem sooner rather than later.

In other words, Meeks ain’t playing.

Because time is running out for lawmakers to fix the problem, it’s too late for a community consensus.

Still, this lawsuit provides an opening for every local official — from Mayor Daley to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger — to correct a wrong perpetrated long ago.

Contrary to what you hear, the vast majority of minority parents do care about their children’s futures.

This battle is for them.

Thank you, Senator Meeks.

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