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School gatherings, ‘Bus Tour for Fair Funding’ to lay bare impact of CPS cuts as principals brace for the worst

CHICAGO—The Grassroots Education Movement and Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) tomorrow will sponsor a series of gatherings at neighborhood schools and a bus tour of Chicago schools and communities hurt by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s chronic disinvestment, unwieldy borrowing schemes, Great Depression-era levels of unemployment and unprecedented violence. The tour takes place the same day Chicago Public Schools (CPS) principals are set to receive their budgets for the upcoming school year.

CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey will join the tour to help to illustrate the consequences of unconscionable cuts to neighborhood schools while classroom dollars are diverted for massive tax increment financing (TIF) subsidies to wealthy developers. On-the-ground gatherings will include interviews with parents, students and community residents impacted by the mayor and Gov. Bruce Rauner’s continued underfunding of neighborhood public schools and the system’s growing debt burden and chronic structural deficit.

“As our school communities fork out $75,000 a day on loan costs—some of which have interest rates as high as 9 percent—and Rahm and Rauner compete for headlines on who’s to blame, families suffer,” Vice President Sharkey said. “Instead of repaying loans, school should be staffed with trauma counselors, smaller classes for kindergartners, and more librarians and social workers.”

Chicago's school communities continue to confront dangerous funding shortfalls, an ongoing threat from Gov. Bruce Rauner to issue an amendatory veto of SB1 and the refusal of Mayor Rahm Emanuel to address CPS’ fiscal chaos with a short-term infusion of responsible, city revenue streams instead of costly borrowing schemes.

“We need long-term financial stability for a system that has been shortchanged by Rahm and Rauner and their top emergency managers,” CTU President Karen Lewis said. “To saddle our students and their families with ridiculously high interest rates on unsustainable debt, while continuing to slash funding for our schools, is nothing short of economic and educational terrorism.”

Chicago’s public school students deserve adequately funded classroom services and a school system that respects and engages families and communities, and is built on best practices and a commitment to adequately fund public education. Neighborhood schools in African-American and Latino communities should be anchors for civic engagement and long-term vitality, but instead suffer from chronic disinvestment.

Mayor Emanuel has chosen to cut classroom funding, slash special education, shutter local schools and accrue growing debt at payday loan interest rates that place an even greater economic burden on struggling families and communities.

“Public school families and neighborhoods don’t need debt—they need sensible, responsible funding mechanisms for the schools our students deserve,” President Lewis said.

Neighborhood school gatherings, Bus Tour for Fair Funding: Thursday, July 20, 2017 

  • Tour departs at 10 a.m. from CTU headquarters, 1901 W. Carroll Ave.
  • 11:15 a.m: Press availability at National Teachers Academy, 55 W. Cermak
  • 12:15 p.m.: Press availability, Uplift High School, 900 W. Wilson Ave.
  • 1 p.m.: Press availability at CTU headquarters

Please RSVP via email with CTU Legislative and Political Director Stacy Davis Gates at or Chris Geovanis at

Chicago Teachers Union