By Ben Velderman

CHICAGO – The Chicago Tribune reports that “20 principals and assistant principals are among 26 current and former Chicago Public Schools employees who provided false income information on applications to get their children into the federal free or reduced-price lunch program.”

The $11 billion federal program gives free school lunches to children of four-member families with an income less than $29,055. Reduced lunches are given to families that earn less $41,348. The program is essentially run on the honor system, meaning that unscrupulous adults can pilfer the program at will.

And there seems to be no shortage of them in the CPS system.

The nation’s third-largest school district is so full of greed and graft, it almost seems like CPS employees are more concerned about gaming the system for their own personal enrichment than they are about educating students.

The biggest offender is the radical Chicago Teachers Union, which is threatening a massive teachers strike in the fall, unless the bankrupt school district gives union members a 30 percent pay raise. CTU members are willing to disrupt students’ education – which is already subpar – until their financial demands are met.

But the corruption and selfishness extends beyond the teachers union and into the ranks of school administrators. The 20 administrators accused of cheating the lunch system may have gotten away with their scheme, but CPS Inspector James Sullivan tracked them down.

To get a sense of the greed involved in this case, consider this: Two of the accused CPS administrators – a principal and an assistant principal – are married, and have a combined income of nearly $250,000.

Over the past four years, 55 CPS employees have been accused of scamming taxpayers, though they will not face criminal charges, the paper explains.

Between the lunch scam and the CTU’s strike threat, taxpayers can only conclude that an alarming number of CPS employees – teachers and administrators alike – see public education as a means to enrich themselves.

On the off chance the some CPS students actually receive an adequate education, well, that’s just a happy coincidence.