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No celebration until mayor funds our schools

CHICAGOThe Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement today as local and state elected officials gather for the signing of SB1947, the state’s new education funding formula:

The new evidence-based school funding formula is a step in the right direction—as we have always said—and brings us closer to at last adequately designating public dollars to fund the schools that Chicago’s students deserve. But both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Bruce Rauner must answer a simple question: Where is the revenue needed to fully fund the formula, for both Chicago’s public schools and public school districts across the state?

To meet the terms of the new formula, the state should be putting roughly $5 billion in new revenue into statewide public education coffers, yet the new bill only provides $350 million in new revenue overall. Instead of raising revenue, the mayor and the governor have attached a parasitic voucher program to the bill to create a tax shelter that will benefit big corporations and billionaire patrons like Ken Griffin.

Meanwhile, Chicago is still $500 million in the hole for the current budget year—a shortfall of $1,500 per pupil for 2017-2018 alone. By its own estimates, CPS is short $250 million for this year’s budget in a school system where educators and students have shouldered the burden of more than $2 billion in cuts over the last five years.

Mayor Emanuel is setting the stage in Chicago for $500 million in additional budget cuts which will drive up class sizes and force sweeping school closures that will impact high schools in predominantly low-income neighborhoods and hurt African-American and Latino students the most.

“The stark reality is that it’s premature to celebrate a bill signing that does little to address persistent funding shortfalls and what our schools really need to restore art and music, school librarians, clean classrooms, special education teachers and wraparound services,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said.

The new law doubles the amount of property tax increases Mayor Emanuel can foist on working-class and middle-class families, including our own members, who’ve shouldered 5,000 layoffs among educators alone since he became mayor.

The mayor must put in place fair and sustainable sources of revenue—corporate head tax, commercial lease tax, tax increment financing surplus—rather than asking ordinary families to pick up the slack driven by the refusal of the wealthy to pay their fair share for public education.

Chicago Teachers Union