CHICAGO—The Chicago Public Schools’ “civil rights” lawsuit against the state is a cynical political ploy designed to divert attention from the failed leadership and flawed decision-making of Mayor Emanuel, who has failed to adequately pursue progressive revenue for the city’s schools. He would rather go toe to toe with aldermen on planting trees than drain the TIF Surplus and reinstate a corporate head tax—two measures that would plug the budget hole today. Rahm has consistently chosen his billionaire buddies over the needs of our school communities.
In a letter sent home from schools to parents, Rahm’s hand-picked CEO Forrest Claypool threatened that the school district will cut off the school year as early as June 1, 2017, and cancel summer school if the court didn’t grant the district’s claims for more state money immediately to cover the deficit they’ve projected at $129 million for this fiscal year. It is clear now that Rahm and Claypool’s decision to restore $18 million to low income Black and Latino schools was about a cynical game of front page politics.
As Rahm and Rauner continue their policies of budget cuts at the state and city levels, our school communities are scrambling to provide wrap-around supports for students dealing with unprecedented levels of trauma as a result of the threats of deportations and violence in their neighborhoods and the severe cuts to special education services for some of our most vulnerable students. By our count, Chicago school communities have suffered over $2 billion worth of cuts under this Mayor’s “leadership.”
The answer last year when the district threatened $500 million in cuts was revenue that they were able to find. This year, it is the same: Revenue. Rahm can drain the TIF surplus and reinstate the Corporate Head Tax to plug this budget hole.
CPS is broke on purpose. Hundreds of millions of dollars remain in TIF surplus funds—revenue that could plug the holes in school budgets throughout the district today. Rahm could easily reinstate the Corporate Head Tax. It is criminal that we have a mayor that would rather wait out Rauner’s hostage situation instead of doing the right thing and providing the revenue to fully resource schools. There are 50 wards with multiple schools in each one. Surely the mayor can find 26 votes to reinstate the Corporate Head Tax and it is well within his power to drain the TIF coffers.
The mayor behaving as if he has zero solutions is incredibly irresponsible,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “Rahm wants us to let him off the hook for under-funding our schools and instead wait for the Bad Bargain to pass the Senate or Rauner’s cold, cold heart to melt and provide fair funds. He needs to look at his wealthy friends and at the TIF money he has already collected to provide what our schools need.”