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Karen Lewis: How to avoid calamity of closing schools early

by karen lewis - ctu president  |  04/19/2017

Chance the Rapper has recently stepped up to address the fiscal crisis in Chicago Public Schools. Unlike Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner, Chance has not made excuses, but instead, made a sincere effort to avoid the calamity of ending the 2016-2017 school year a month early on June 1.

Private philanthropy and goodwill, however, are a wholly inadequate method for providing a sustainable and fully funded school district. At this rate, we would need more than 200 Chances to emerge to fill in the gaps already imposed and planned for CPS this year.

There is incredible violence, fear and trauma throughout Chicago that students are harboring within their schools. Additionally, the mayor’s handpicked Chicago Board of Education callously cut budgets in February at low-income, predominantly Black and Latino schools at twice the rate as predominantly white schools, exacerbating an already separate and unequal school system in our city.

Whether it is the one part-time social worker serving 1,700 students at Sawyer Elementary one day a week, the 37 English as a Second Language students in a Roosevelt High School class, or the shooting deaths of CPS students such as Kanari Gentry Bowers and Diego Villada, right now is the absolutely worst moment to impose greater harm upon our most vulnerable children. But this is what Emanuel and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool are proposing.

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