Biden discusses citywide education

By Michael Pedraza

Vice President Joe Biden discussed future education plans for the nation during his speech at the fifth annual Richard J. Daley Urban Forum, an international meeting that provides opportunities for people from around the world, at the University of Illinois at Chicago Forum on April 27.

The vice president said CEOs for Cities, a national group dedicated to strengthening the next generation of American cities, conducted a study on education and income in 50 different metropolitan cities in America and found that cities that had more residents with four-year degrees had a stronger economy.

“According to that analysis, if this city, Chicago, were able to increase the number of residents with 4-year degrees by just one percent, it would add $7.2 billion to the local economy,” Biden said.

Biden said the recovery act includes $125 billion in funding and tax measures to improve Chicago Public Schools, raise the level of education, close achievement gaps and upgrade workforce skills.

One education advocate said more needs to be done to ensure that the next generation is well-educated.

Julie Woestehoff, executive director for PURE (Parents United for Responsible Education), a group that builds support and works to enhance the quality of education for public schools in Chicago, said schools need to start reaching out to kids on a more intellectual level.

She also said too much pressure is put on students with standardized testing and that continuing tests would only make matters worse.

At the high school level all across Chicago Public Schools, students should be put into group activities, she said.

“Get rid of worrying students about tests and get them on projects that make learning together critical,” Woestehoff said.

She also said having more counselors and teachers who want to be involved with helping every student matters to students  because they will get the advantage of having their full attention on whatever problem they have.

Woestehoff said that she doesn’t see any changes happening in the near future that will increase the number of college students graduating with a degree.

“How educated your city is explains 60 percent of how wealthy your city is,” Biden said.

For more information about Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), visit For more information about the Chicago Public Schools, visit