Why I asked about high school

By:  Diane Benjamin

Followup to this story:  https://blnnews.com/2019/07/11/question-for-parents-of-high-school-kids-or-recent-grads/

The Federal deficit is closing in on $22.5 Trillion.  That debt is unsustainable and will destroy future generations.  With that in mind, besides providing funding for empty buses, here’s another questionable program from the Feds.

The Unit 5 FOIA officer told me the Feds reimburse expenses for this program, but she directed me to this State website:  https://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=35174

The program is called STEP.  It is intended to provide kids with disabilities job skills for after high school.  A good number of local businesses and non-profits participate by employing students for what looks like a couple hours at a time.  It appears the kids are paid not by the employer, but with gift cards purchased by Unit 5.  It appears one employee administers this program, at least the gift card part – Jane Collins.  Below is a recap of her gift card purchases:

August 2018 –  Walmart $600

October 2018 – Walmart $3940

November 2018 – Walmart $3770

December 2018 – Walmart $3925

January 2019 – Walmart $3900

February 2019 – Walmart $3900

March 2019 – Walmart $3835

April 2019 – Walmart $3865

Total $27,735

Most of the gift cards are either for $10 or $25.

It looks like students from NCHS, West, and Eugene Field participate.

The FOIA request included lists of participants names and evaluations.  I’m not sure why that information was included, but I’m not going to post it.

I asked on Facebook if any Unit 5 parents had ever heard of this program.  Normally within a couple of minutes of asking a question I get an answer.  I received no responses to this question.

Whether this program is beneficial or not would take a lot more investigation and would probably involve confidential information I won’t get access to.

The real question is whether this program is a government job.  By the time the bureaucracy is done shuffling paperwork, the real cost is MUCH higher.

Before you say:  This will save money in the long run . . . Prove it.

12 thoughts on “Why I asked about high school

  1. My question is:
    Is the cost of the gift cards included in the budget and therefore, am I paying for the cards with my property taxes? Then, if the Fed’s reimburse Unit 5 does that rebate reflect on my final tax bill?

  2. Bottom line: Walmart is making money and the students are getting a rip-off for pay, Kind of reminds me of back when COAL MINERS worked for script at the COMPANY STORE< and EVERYONE had their finger in the kitty.
    Anyone else have a similiar thought? IF the children are WORKING pay them CASH or give them school credit, NOT a walmart gift card!! THis just REEKS of CORRUPTION and GRAFT! And NO, I've never even heard of this program, so there's a rotten fish here.

  3. Actually DOUBLE TAXES!?? As IF the school buys the cards, are they paying sales tax, and even IF they are NOT, when the user buys an item, it’s TAXED! LIke I said, this just REEKS of corruption in SO MANY WAYS!

  4. Since when do we pay kids to go to school? The businesses should be paying and invoicing the federal gov’t for this money. That way it is NOT an expense to the school and ultimately my real estate taxes.

  5. my son graduated for NCHS in 03 he has many special needs and I NEVER once was asked if he needed special job skills. Never heard of STEP myself. It would have been wonderful if he would have had a little help . As it was I spent more time in the principal’s office asking why my son was bullied,bruised and mentally whipped than I ever spent in the principal’s office my entire. school life. Even without the freebies it would have been nice to have help seeing my tax dollars went to support the district.

    1. That’s heartbreaking. What was the Principal’s response? Did things ever improve for him?

  6. .
    Disabled students must have access to special services by LAW in accordance with Americans with Disabilities Act. The section of laws for disabled student is in section 504 of that law. That’s were the S.T.E.P. program comes in which gives disabled students job experience they wouldn’t get without intervention.

    This country spends around 5 percent on education. We spend 62 percent on the military. Spending on education is not adding to the to debt. It’s money well spent. You seem to strongly insinuate that a program to aid disabled students to gain job experience is grossly adding to the national debt. Really?


    1. Intellectually dishonest, Leftist BS. You get this little distorted pie chart by counting all Defense spending as discretionary, but conveniently forgetting that under “Food & Agriculture”, you have over 80 BILLION dollars a year for Food Stamps, or, as I like to call it, “Ribeyes For Deadbeats”.
      Same with Education expenses. As Dianne points out, the military is a Falling 1/5th of the Federal Budget, but should be 60%, like it was in the majority of the post WWII era. Defending the country IS the job of the Federal Government.

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