Teachers, parents to slam failures of mayor’s appointed board
Filthy schools, shuttered schools’ sale to private school operators, special education scandal among issues advocates say underscore need for accountable, elected, representative school board.
CHICAGO—Parents, teachers, students and advocates have raised the alarm about a host of issues in Chicago’s public schools, from filthy schools and overcrowded classrooms to blistering state findings on deficiencies in CPS’ special education program and a high school enrollment process that critics say underscores CPS’ failed ‘choice’ model. Every one of CPS’ failings, say critics, can be walked back to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s control of CPS – from who serves as CEO to who sits on the board.
Critics will raise their concerns – and their demand for an elected, representative school board that will at last end Emanuel’s control over education policy and operations – at a press conference before CPS’ scheduled monthly board meeting, beginning at 9:30 AM on Wednesday, April 25 in front of CPS headquarters at 42 W. Madison St.
Critics point to a range of troubling issues stemming from Emanuel’s control over CPS. Emanuel’s school board has denied CPS’ overwhelmingly low-income Black and Brown youth the benefits of the state’s new equity-based funding formula, instead using ‘student-based budgeting’, or SBB – a flat per capita funding scheme that undermines the law’s intent to channel funds to schools and students most in need. The public learned earlier this month that CPS will funnel an additional $259 million to one of the companies that has left schools filthy. The Illinois State Board of Education recently found that changes implemented by Emanuel’s hand-picked schools CEO, who was forced out late last year in the wake of an ethics scandal, worsened an already understaffed and under-resourced special education program. Emanuel’s new GoCPS high school registration program locked out more than 75% of incoming freshmen from their top three school selections, when instead, say advocates, CPS should be strengthening neighborhood high schools as part of a commitment to ensure that every neighborhood has sustainable community schools.
Emanuel’s hand-picked board moved to close a highly rated elementary school serving an overwhelmingly low-income, Black student population earlier this year over vigorous public opposition and wrenching appeals from students. CPS also moved to close all of Englewood’s public high schools, which have suffered years of acute disinvestment and subsequent enrollment decline. Emanuel’s school executives continue to push school privatization, despite a growing body of evidence that charters serve students no better than public schools, while undercutting enrollment and funding for public schools. And the public learned this week that CPS has sold four neighborhood public schools shuttered in Emanuel’s 2013 mass school closings to private operators who are exploiting the state’s new voucher scheme to siphon off public dollars for private operators’ tuition costs.
“The mayor owns this legacy of failed policy – and failed leadership,” says CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey, who will speak at Wednesday’s press conference. “Under Emanuel’s control, there is no public accountability, no transparency and, frankly, no decency displayed by this rubber stamp board – only the mindless accommodation of the mayor’s wishes and the disaster that has created for our students. It’s time for that to end.”
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The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in schools funded by City of Chicago School District 299, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information, please visit the CTU website at www.ctunet.com.