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Meeks Outlines Plans For Schools

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Illinois State Sen. James Meeks

Illinois State Sen. James Meeks, a candidate for mayor of Chicago, announces his education plan at a news conference at City Hall on Dec. 15, 2010 (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (WBBM) – State Sen. James Meeks unveiled his plan to overhaul Chicago Public Schools if he’s elected mayor next year, including a controversial voucher program for students at failing public schools.

WBBM Newsradio 780’s John Cody reports Meeks stood in front of the office he’d like to occupy on the fifth floor of City Hall to roll out his education plan.

Meeks said his voucher program would provide up to 50,000 low-income students with $4,500 per year to attend any school of their choice in Chicago.

The South Side pastor and state lawmaker has pushed for vouchers in the General Assembly before, only to have his proposals voted down.

Asked what would be different if he’s elected mayor, he said he believes more lawmakers would vote for school vouchers if the program is being pushed by the mayor of Chicago.

Meeks also called for doubling the time students spend on reading and math through the third grade.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody Reports

Where to find the time?

“It takes five minutes that we give kids now to pass between classes. Maybe we’ll reduce that to one minute,” Meeks said. “Maybe we’ll cut gym to 20 minutes. We’ll cut lunch by five minutes.”

Meeks also wants the Teachers Union to develop a system to weed out poor teachers, and he wants an additional 50,000 vouchers – worth $4,500 each – handed out to low-income parents.

He also wants the Chicago Public Schools to begin teaching character development.

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