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Mayor should stop spinning, start getting nurses, social workers, other critical frontline staff into schools

Mayor’s latest IB spin comes with no dollars – and no commitment to remedy ongoing shortages of clinicians and resources in schools today.

CHICAGO, September 14, 2018—Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced yet another school ‘improvement’ plan today to bolster support for a report prepared by corporate charter school boosters and beat back against charges that he has favored North Side schools over South and West Side schools for resources and support. Today’s press event adds to a dizzying number of nearly daily pronouncements from Emanuel and his hand-picked school bureaucrats to put a happy face on his troubling education record.

“While Rahm is rolling out another round of pie-in-the-sky promises and patting himself on the back, our schools confront a dire shortage of health workers and vital frontline staff that is literally endangering the safety of our students,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey. “This mayor won’t guarantee even the most basic resources to thousands of our students, yet he’s got the time to pander to a report backed by corporate proponents of charter expansion. It’s tragic that the students of this city have to endure another eight months of the incompetent, irresponsible mis-leadership of this mayor and his rubber stamp board.”

The mayor’s latest press release comes on the heels of a report yesterday by the City of Chicago’s Inspector General that CPS’ program to place police in public schools comes with grave deficiencies in training or oversight, with CPS being unable to even identify officers who work in the schools.

CPS opened school last week with an acute shortage of school health workers – a burden that barely a hundred certified school nurses have struggled to fill as CPS background checks drag on and parents of special education students struggle to access services. Schools across the South and West Sides lack libraries and librarians, and are desperately short of social workers, counselors, psychologists and other frontline workers – even as CPS reels from the ongoing fallout from a sexual abuse scandal it swept under the rug for years. Some schools remain short of custodians during the day, and some classrooms still have prevailing issues around air conditioning and poor facilities maintenance.

Today’s announcement also comes with no guarantee that Emanuel’s proposed expansion of programming in IB, Career and Technical Education (CTE), STEM and other programming will not continue to pit under-resourced neighborhood public schools against charters for resources.

“How can schools that he’s starved for eight years – including schools on the South and West Sides that HAD vibrant CTE programs until this mayor cut them – possibly hope to compete for these programs?” said Sharkey, who noted that in the last six years, CPS has opened 69 CTE programs and closed 37. “His mismanagement of critical academic options like CTE has been disastrous – and it’s undermined enrollment in schools on the South and West Sides. His announcement today is not a fix. It’s a vain attempt to cover his indifference and his incompetence.”

Chicago Teachers Union