Chicago voters, both living and dead, are picking the next mayor of the Windy City today. While deceased voters need not worry about such things, those who still breathe are concerned foremost about crime. Widespread, senseless lawlessness has crept from previously dangerous areas onto the Magnificent Mile, Michigan Avenue’s once-vibrant center for tourism, shopping, dining, and good times.
America’s Second City is now First in Crime, by many measures. Observers inside and outside Chicago condemn Democrat Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s laissez-faire approach toward violent lawbreakers. Since she arrived at City Hall four years ago, murder has climbed a terrifying 59 percent, or roughly 15 percent per annum, on average. Nonlethal crimes are up, too: Robbery has grown 27 percent. Theft has risen 31 percent. And motor vehicle theft has zoomed up 270 percent.
On good days, Lightfoot shrugs at this carnage and chaos. On bad days, she is a latter-day Nero. She appeared last October in a lame, vertical, TikTok-style video singing “Sweet Home Chicago,” in advance of a karaoke competition. More recently, she popped up at a Lunar New Year parade and danced in the snow. Cringes erupted from Wrigley Field to O’Hare Airport.
In peaceful, prosperous times, such hijinks can be dismissed as civic boosterism. When her youngest constituents routinely get shot to death by stray bullets while standing on their parents’ front porches or even sleeping peacefully in bed at night, this is the epitome of out-of-touch callousness.
Lightfoot behaves as if criminals were her political base. In that sense, an article in today’s Daily Mail is especially disturbing. According to this report, guards in the Cook County Jail have pressured inmates to vote, whether or not they are registered or even residents of Chicago.
The Daily Mail quoted an anonymous source who called the main local lockup a perfect spot for ballot harvesting among lawbreakers.
“Cameras inside the Jail notoriously don’t work,” the source said. “There aren’t any election observers. If an inmate complains, who would believe them? So, if you wanted to manipulate a ballot, who would know?”
While Chicago reels beneath the thumbs of thugs, its schools are a planetary disgrace.
A local think tank called Wirepoints examined data from the latest Illinois State Board of Education Report Card. Eighteen Chicago high schools have zero students who are proficient in math and zero who are proficient in reading. Zippo. Not even one, in either category, on 18 different high school campuses.
This dismal figure combines two larger portraits of educational disaster: 33 Chicago government schools have zero students who can compute at grade level and 23 have zero students who can read at grade level.
What’s wrong with these 18 Chicago government high schools in which not even one boy or girl can do math or read as expected for his or her grade? Perhaps the school system is just not spending enough money. If more taxpayer dollars cascaded on these schools, addition and multiplication would explode as swiftly as appreciation of Dickens and Twain.
No such luck.
Taxpayers should demand a refund. Among these 18 schools, per-student spending averages $23,923. The Douglas Academy High School shells out $56,311 on each of its 44 students, and yet not even one is proficient in math or reading. This is beyond scandalous.
“In a sane world, schools that don’t and can’t teach a single student the most basic of skills would be shut down,” Wirepoints’ study declared. “But here, they carry on. The system thrives while students wither.”
School choice advocates might be startled and saddened to see that so many of these disastrous campuses are charter schools. Indeed, of these 18 intellectual Superfund sites, 14 are charter schools.
Charter schools offer hope and promise all over America. Why is their performance so breathtakingly dreadful in Chicago?
“There’s not a single charter school in Chicago Public Schools where more than a third of kids can read at grade level,” laments Ted Dabrowski, president of Wirepoints and co-author of this research, along with John Klingner. “In the end, Chicago charters are still part of Chicago’s failed public system.”
And what of the 25-watt-bulb running for reelection today against eight rivals? How much blame does Mayor Lightfoot deserve for these horrible educational outcomes, either for triggering them or doing little to nothing to send scores skyward?
“Lori Lightfoot did not cause these results. CPS has been failing students for decades,” Dabrowski tells me. “What she has done is perpetuate the failure by giving in to the Chicago Teachers Union time and again. And her devotion to the ‘equity’ agenda has made things far worse.”
Polls close tonight at 7 p.m. Central Time.
Chicagoans, please vote as if your lives and the minds of your city’s children depend on it, because they do.
Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor.