The fact that Illinois has still not stepped in to provide adequate funding for Chicago students is shameful. Yet, the idea that City Hall should rush forward with a makeshift solution for a Chicago Public Schools budget deficit betrays the best interests of our children.

Any suggestion that this be done is disconcerting and calls to mind an old Yiddish proverb. It goes something like this: Why ruin perfectly good questions with an answer? We saw evidence of this last week in the rushed passage in the U.S. House of the Republican American Health Care Act without any cost-analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. Quick answers dangerously shut down the most pertinent questions and conversation. In contrast, real solutions demand them. As frustrating and unpopular as it may be, solving tough problems often takes time, inquiry and difficult trade-offs, not rushed decisions.

Because we can’t sacrifice today’s children for tomorrow or tomorrow’s children for today, because state officials — who made decades of inexcusable pension decisions — and the current governor have forsaken Illinois’ most needy students, there’s no perfect answer. Budget cuts hurt our students short-term, expensive borrowing hurts them long-term. Both, sadly, have to be considered now.

Finding a working balance has brought criticism from both sides of the political aisle, but it remains the courageous and right thing to do. Despite our financial challenges, under our current mayor, Chicago students have made amazing strides in math and reading and their graduation rates continue to rise. Let’s be careful not to shoot a diligent messenger and instead work at solving this tough problem patiently, honestly and together.

— Alana G. Baum, Ph.D., Chicago

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