Emanuel’s new CPS budget proposal bakes in lethal cuts to neighborhood schools
CHICAGO, Oct. 5, 2017—Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Vice President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today in response to Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) announcement that it would be revising its 2017-18 budget:
Our neighborhood public schools have been forced to shoulder billions of dollars in cuts since Rahm Emanuel became mayor, and his handpicked school executives today announced a revised budget that simply bakes those cuts into another school year. This is a betrayal of the evidence-based school funding formula that the Illinois legislature passed in late August—a formula designed to ensure that school districts like Chicago with a high percentage of students living in concentrated poverty finally get the smaller class sizes, better resourced classrooms and wraparound services they need to succeed. This budget instead sets the stage for another round of school closures in our most economically depressed neighborhoods, and conversations we know CPS officials are already having in communities like Austin and Humboldt Park.
There is no commitment in this new proposal to funding for librarians, school nurses, high school counselors, special education and English as a Second Language teachers that have been taken from our schools. There is no commitment to fund enrichment programs in art, music and physical education. And there is no commitment to fund trauma services for our students and schools in need, even though the new state funding formula and our own contract builds in support for these critical needs.
CPS also has made no commitment to cut class sizes in neighborhood schools that are full to the rafters and struggling with upwards of 40 students in some classrooms. The district has instead promised to provide an additional $37 million for charter school operators with no new transparency, oversight or public accountability, or any guarantee that those funds will go to classrooms and not the pockets of politically connected operators.
Neither the mayor nor his handpicked school chief would allow their children to attend schools that are as desperately under-resourced and neglected as our neighborhood schools. This proposed budget simply perpetuates the inequities that our middle- and working-class families and their children have been forced to endure since 2011, and denies non-charter public schoolchildren the evidence-based budgeting that the CPS CEO is providing to charter operators.
What we need instead are progressive sources of new revenue such as a reinstated corporate head tax for wealthy companies and tax increment financing (TIF) surpluses for neighborhood schools to ensure that all of our students have access to the educational experiences they need and deserve.