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CTU to Emanuel: We shouldn’t have to fight for adequate staffing

CHICAGO, July 16, 2018—The Chicago Teachers Union called today’s CPS announcement of more staffing for social workers and special education caseworkers grossly inadequate. A livestream of the https://www.pscp.tv/w/1ypKdYjwvnoGWCTU's press conference today is at this link.

The CTU and its allies have been battling Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for seven years for more school social workers, psychologists, certified school nurses and case managers – positions that Emanuel has slashed since he took office in 2011.

“We’re proud of our advocacy and the results it produces – and disgusted that we have to continue to battle this mayor for what our students need,” says CTU organizer and teacher Brandon Johnson, who spoke at today's press conference. “The only reason CPS is taking action today is because of years of pressure from CTU members, parents, and advocates. Without that pressure – and the state takeover of CPS special education – the Mayor would have done nothing. Today’s announcement still falls far short of what our students need – and Emanuel is STILL starving our schools and our students, just has he has for years.”

CPS would need to hire roughly a thousand social workers to meet minimum recommended ratios of social workers to students. Emanuel has instead slashed social worker positions by over 20% since he took office. Today’s announcement fills less than a quarter of the existing need.

“To be blunt, we can’t trust the Mayor’s rule by press release,” says Johnson. “He has a sordid history of stats juking and bait-and-switch tactics, and he’s actually made staff shortages much worse since he took office. CPS’s challenges require two solutions – real revenue to support what students need, and an elected school board to ensure that people across the city have a voice in how the schools are run. Dictatorial rule by one person has resulted in a string of corruption cases, ethical lapses, accountability failures, and a chronic refusal to put our students needs ahead of the mayor’s distorted political agenda.”

The National Association of Social Workers recommends a ratio of one school social worker for each school building serving up to 250 general education students, or a ratio of 1:250 students. For students with intensive needs, a lower ratio, such as 1:50, is suggested. Currently the ratio in CPS is one social worker per more than 1,200 students, nearly five times the recommended ratio.

CPS also has severe shortages of school psychologists and certified school nurses. The CPS ratio for school psychologists is over 1,700 students per each psychologist – three times the recommended ratio. The ratio of certified school nurses to students is over 2,500:1 – more than four times the recommended average – and their numbers have been cut in half while their workload has risen 70% since 2010.

“Today’s announcement barely covers the number of positions Emanuel has slashed since he took office,” said Johnson. “Our students’ needs – including contending with the impact of continuing neighborhood violence, with six people killed this weekend alone – continue to go unmet. Our neighborhoods suffer from devastating unemployment at Great Depression-era levels in parts of the South and West sides. Today, our students’ unmet trauma needs are far greater than Emanuel’s proposal today even begins to address.”

Retired teacher Miriam Socoloff, who attended today's press conference, agrees. "How much corruption and scandal will it take for us to get an elected school board that ends one-man rule?" the Golden Apple awardee asked. "How many CEOs have to go to jail or resign under the stink of corruption? How many contract schemes and privatization deals that hurt our students and make the mayor's pals a pile of money do we have to endure? How long do our students have to attend filthy schools with lousy food while Emanuel's school bureaucrats fail to protect them from predatory adults? This man's rule over our school system must end."

Chicago Teachers Union