Meeks offers deal to end boycott

CHICAGO Illinois State Senator James Meeks said he'll call off a first day of school boycott, if state lawmakers can agree to pump money into underperforming schools.

Senator James Meeks, who is also a minister, is calling for a boycott off the first day of school at Chicago Public Schools to protest poor school funding. He wants them to try to enroll in other, better- funded schools in affluent suburbs instead.

"You should not boycott the school. Keeping children out of school would be disastrous to many children," said Mayor Richard Daley

"It's always good to keep the kids in school. I believe personally it was a bad idea talking about taking them out of school," said Senator Emil Jones, (D) Senate President

The boycott is not something the state's elected leaders want to happen, so those leaders -- Governor Rod Blagojevich, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones -- are listening when Meeks offered to call off the boycott- in exchange for a 3-year, $120 million plan. That plan would include a pilot program to boost student achievement and lower the drop-out rate in struggling Illinois schools.

"Calling off the boycott is a good idea, but I think it's important for Senator Meeks to continue to focus on the big picture," said City Clerk Miguel Del Valle, former State Senator

Like everything else in the dysfunctional Illinois Democratic family, political leaders who have to approve the plan are a long way from signing anything that will cost more money and require a level of cooperation that's not there.

"My role is to be in the room at the time that the arrangement comes together and there's a trust factor. There may be a trust problem that senator Meeks may have with certain people in Illinois," said House Speaker Michael Madigan, (D) Chicago.

"Illinois does not have a money making machine. The speaker would have to support revenue measures to take care of it. Putting something on paper doesn't mean anything if there's no money in the bank to pay for it. That is always the question," said Jones.

The group plans to begin the discussions tonight.

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