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CPS special ed debacle, ISBE call for independent monitoring falls at feet of Mayor Rahm Emanuel

CHICAGOThe Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement today following a vote by the Illinois State Board of Education to appoint an independent monitor to oversee Chicago Public Schools’ management of special education services, after the Board found that the district committed multiple violations of federal law and endangered thousands of children:

“It is no surprise that the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) blasted Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked Chicago Board of Education for its intentional violations of state and federal special education laws. The report and its recommendations outline a culture of blatant disregard for the law and the amoral administration of special education services for thousands of our most vulnerable students. The union hopes that ISBE will extend its monitor to oversee the practices of the district’s multiple charter school operators to ensure maximum protection for all students, and compliance with the law.

“While an independent monitor is necessary, this penalty for Emanuel’s poor stewardship of our school communities does not go far enough. The Chicago Teachers Union demands an immediate end to mayoral control of Chicago's public schools.

“The state’s findings are the result of a massive coalition effort among CPS parents, special education advocates and CTU members and staff who have succeeded in holding the district accountable for its wrongdoing. But while we commend ISBE’s effort to address these injustices, this is only the beginning. Our union has learned of equally shameful reductions in services for students who qualify for transitional bilingual services, diverse learning and early childhood programming, and believes there are extensive violations in these areas where the district has unlawfully slashed budgets and cut corners.

“Despite the mayor’s electoral subterfuge and million dollar campaign gifts, his administration has enacted some of the deepest cuts to school services and personnel in CPS history. Under Emanuel’s failed leadership, we have seen more than 60 schools closed in low-income Black and Brown neighborhoods; the number of school nurses fall to 144 for more than 500 schools; illegal and immoral $100 million cuts to special education budgets; the elimination of close to 2,000 teacher positions; and a reduction in the number of social workers by almost 20 percent.

“In addition, already record-high class sizes have continued to balloon, and as the mayor rolls out the red carpet over community voice for a presidential library, he is currently presiding over a district with more than 500 schools, but only 157 school librarians.

“Emanuel is a failed school boss with two independent monitors now overseeing his work—ISBE and the Illinois Attorney General. His school record is abysmal. One of his handpicked school CEOs is serving time in a federal prison. Another handpicked CEO—and personal friend—was forced out of the position for sweeping ethics violations. There has been an unprecedented purging of Black, female educators. Multiple contracts with privatized janitorial companies have left our school communities filthy and infested with rodents.

“The only way forward is an end to the mayor’s inequitable and draconian student-based budgeting scheme. Our school communities deserve school budgets that reflect the aspirations of the new state formula.

“Mayoral control is a failed policy. We need an elected, representative school board.

“We need to remove the restrictions on our union’s bargaining rights so we can appropriately address the needs of our students.

“And lastly, we need a new mayor.”

Chicago Teachers Union