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Bin Laden’s greatest win

Chicago's skyline | Saul Loeb~AFP/Getty Images

Chicago's skyline | Saul Loeb~AFP/Getty Images

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Updated: July 15, 2013 6:53PM

Osama bin Laden’s greatest victories on 9/11 are coming into focus. It is disturbing to hear senators defend the surveillance of millions of Americans. Nineteen men from a foreign country were able to turn millions of innocent American citizens into potential enemies of the state.

The lasting legacy of Osama bin Laden will not be the twin towers he took down, but the erosion of our liberties.

Tom O’Brien,

West Town

Thanks, Chicago

When I came here four years ago, I figured Chicago was just a convenient city to park my behind for undergrad. Now, the city is a part of my heart for imparting its wisdom.

First, this city fights for its causes. I have watched countless strikes, marches, and public debates. From the NATO Summit to the teacher’s strike, when this city cares about a topic, it cares deeply enough to fight for it. Second, everyone struggles in Chicago, but everybody just keeps pushing forward. From the minute battles with Chicago’s infamous weather to its citizens’ constant struggle with violence and poverty, Chicagoans struggle but they always keep moving forward to the next challenge.

Third, Chicago is always about reinvention and is continually striving to be the best city, not the second city. Fourth and finally, Chicago pride is one of the most incredible phenomena ever witnessed. This city has embraced millions from all corners of the world into its big, broad shoulders. No matter where you’re from or what you speak, Chicago’s got a neighborhood for you.

Although post-graduation plans are taking me away this week, I look forward to the day when Chicago can teach me a few more lessons. On behalf of the Class of 2013, thanks for the world-class education in life and the best home anyone could ever hope for!

Molly Munson,

Hyde Park

Start young, get parents involved

We support Chicago Public Schools’ call for parental involvement in education in its five-year action plan [“Byrd-Bennett wants to get CPS students prepared for college,” June 10].

We know from more than a century of work in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods that parental involvement is an integral part of the student success equation.

What Chicago Commons’ parents may lack in resources, they make up for in will and commitment: 100 percent of our early education parents participate in twice-a-year home visits designed to ensure that learning continues at home and complements school-based teaching. Another key driver is monthly parent committee meetings run by the parents themselves.

When parents have a voice and are empowered to use it, children’s lives are transformed.

Our children heading to kindergarten in the fall demonstrate that success is possible: 91 percent exceeded readiness in literacy; 90 percent exceeded readiness in social, emotional and gross motor skills; 89 percent exceeded readiness in the language and cognitive domains; and 81 percent exceeded readiness in math.

When we create a support system committed to education at every touchpoint in a child’s life, students succeed, and so do our communities and our city.

Betsy Altman,

Interim Executive Director, Chicago Commons

Sequestration leaves no room for special ed

Though Congress was able to avoid sending us over the fiscal cliff by the grace of the 11th hour, New Year’s decision, the dramatic consequences of sequestration were merely postponed. As it stands, the March budget process will include a 5.1 percent across-the-board cut to education programs that help students with disabilities, their families and the professionals who work with them. Education and the other programs facing cuts would not only dramatically impact students with disabilities, but families with low-income backgrounds. According to a survey by the Council for Exceptional Children, 95 percent say that sequestration cuts will lead to hiring freezes and/or layoffs and 77 percent say that these cuts will increase the strain on schools to provide services to students with disabilities. With cuts to the U.S. Department of Education’s budget totaling $2.5 billion, and cuts to the programs supported by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) totaling $600 million, the bottom line is that every school in the nation will feel the effects of sequestration. We must consider the potential impact of more cuts to education funds on children, families, professionals and communities. We need legislation that is well-crafted to provide schools the flexibility they need to continue to employ teachers and other specialized instructional support personnel to educate diverse students and ensure that all students receive the services to which they are entitled. Despite our current financial climate, we owe it to all children across the nation to provide the schools and educational services they need to have the bright futures they deserve.

Patricia A. Even, Darien

CPS should rethink its budget

I have lived across the street from a Chicago public school for 36 years. Over the years, I have watched the “janitor” cut the grass and shovel the snow and perform other maintenance duties. Now I watch the school property take on a run-down appearance — the grass gets to be a foot tall before it gets cut. And the “janitor” no longer cuts the grass. I watch a beautiful private landscape truck pull up with four or five workers with expensive equipment to maintain the property. I can only imagine how expensive it would be to hire them. What happened to the idea of a janitor maintaining the school? Whose idea was it to hire these private companies? Why couldn’t grass-cutting become a form of community service or maybe the responsibility of boy scout troops trying to earn badges? I am sure there is a better use for the money spent on private landscapers. Chicago Public Schools should learn to budget just like the rest of us have had to do.

Bonnie Sutherland, Hegewisch

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