The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Teachers Union Highlights Chicago's School Funding Woes In Neighborhood Tour

By aaroncynic in News on Jul 20, 2017 8:59PM

Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa speaks at a press conference on education equity outside the National Teachers Academy. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

As Chicago Public Schools principals are set to receive their budgets Thursday afternoon, the Chicago Teachers Union, several Chicago aldermen, state representatives and other education advocates held a “bus tour for fair funding” to highlight what they say is disparity created by underfunding neighborhood public schools.

“Chicago’s public school students deserve adequately funded classroom services, a school system that respects and engages families and communities, and best practices and a commitment to adequately fund public education,” said the CTU in a press release. “Neighborhood schools in African-American and Latino communities should be anchors for civic engagement and long-term vitality, but instead suffer from chronic disinvestment as Mayor Rahm Emanuel has chosen to cut classroom funding, slash special education, shutter local schools and accrue growing debt at payday loan interest rates that place an even greater economic burden on struggling families and communities.”

When school begins in September, CPS will face $544 million shortfall. Officials say while principals will see a slight uptick in per pupil funding, a projected decline in enrollment means that schools will still see $43 million less in funding than they did last year, according to the Chicago Tribune. A bill on the governor’s desk would provide $300 million in funding for Chicago schools, but he has vowed to veto it.

In a statement on Thursday, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said Rauner was “holding children across the state hostage as bargaining chips for his political agenda."

The union and others blame both Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the CPS's funding woes. At a press conference outside the National Teachers Academy, alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa called for a special meeting to work on raising more revenue for the school district.

“Even if the Senate overrides the veto, even if we prevail over Rauner’s attack on our Chicago Public Schools, we are still $244 million in the hole,” said Rosa. “This crisis is the mayor’s crisis. He engineered it by making sure his corporate donors get TIF largesse while our kids in our schools get cut after cut after cut. This is why the Chicago City Council cannot go on vacation in August. The mayor and the council need to come together for a special meeting to raise revenue immediately. The Garza-Cardenas TIF surplus ordinance has stood in committee for months. The corporate head tax which would raise $100 million for CPS has sat in committee for months.”

CTU President Karen Lewis called the District’s continued funding crises “educational terrorism.”

“We need long-term financial stability for a system that has been shortchanged by Rahm and Rauner and their top emergency managers,” Lewis said in a statement. “To saddle our students and their families with ridiculously high interest rates on unsustainable debt, while continuing to slash funding for our schools, is nothing short of economic and educational terrorism.”