Chicago Public Schools: Rauner cheats kids

Forrest Claypool, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, sent a letter home with all 381,000 students. The letter, dated as of Monday, according to a report on WGN-TV, accused Gov Bruce Rauner, Republican of Illinois, of “cheating” kids, especially those who are most vulnerable: poor ones, minorities.


(via Facebook)
Letter from Chicago Public Schools to all families

Dear Families:

Governor Rauner, just like President Trump, has decided to attack those who need the most help. Governor Rauner and President Trump regularly attack Chicago because they hope to score political points. It is shameful.

Most recently, Governor Rauner broke his word by blocking Chicago from receiving $215 million for our schools. That $215 million was supposed to be a first step — just a first step — toward treating your children fairly. That $215 million was supposed to be a first step toward providing your children with their fair share of the dollars Illinois spends on children in the rest of Illinois. But Governor Rauner broke his word and did not provide even that first step.

Governor Rauner’s decision to take $215 million from CPS forces us to make some tough choices. You will not like these cuts. We don’t like them either. In fact, we are very, very angry that we have to make them.

We are writing to let you know about two of the biggest cuts that Governor Rauner has forced us to make right now.

First, we imposed four furlough days on all CPS employees. We chose four days that students would not be in school. But those four days are important for our principals, teachers, and other staff to do their work.

Second, we froze more than $50 million of spending by the schools. You should know that the $50 million was not for fancy frills or things that do not matter. Our principals will do their best, but the spending cuts hurt. Please understand that this means your principal cannot provide everything she or he knows should be available for your children. The principals are doing the best they can.

There is no way to sugar-coat the rest of this news. If we are not able to win the political battles in Springfield, we will have to make more cuts. Those cuts will be even more painful. We need not just the $215 million first step that the governor has stolen from your children. We need real change that is fair to your children.

We want to be clear: CPS cannot run the school system that your children deserve with the funds we have. Under the law, CPS has used all of its taxing power to bring in the most dollars we can. CPS also has borrowed billions of dollars to keep the schools open while the governor and his political friends continue to cheat your children of their fair share of the state’s education dollars.

The only solution will require a new approach — a fair approach — to fund education in Chicago.

There are many ideas about how Illinois can provide more money to do what we must for your children. We welcome all ideas, and we will work with everyone to find answers.

But while the governor and his fiends fight about how to solve the problem, they know that every day they cheat your children of their fair share, they can score political points with their own supporters. Just like President Trump.

And like President Trump, Governor Rauner is targeting our most vulnerable citizens: immigrant children, racial minorities, the poor.

Your children have made amazing progress learning at CPS. We are improving the quality of our teachers, developing better academic programs, and creating more opportunities for your children. But we also know that your children’s wonderful progress is at risk. We cannot let your children down.

All of us at CPS believe that teaching children is the most important work we can do. We know that good schools can change your children’s lives.

Please join with us in demanding that the governor and his friends stop acting like President Trump. Please join us in demanding that your children receive their fair share of the money Illinois spends. Please join us in demanding that your children receive the quality education they deserve. Learn more at cps.edu/equality.

Sincerely,

Forrest Claypool, CEO, CPS

The station said a letter from the governor’s office read:

Rather than cutting services and creating a crisis to help justify a campaign to raise taxes in Springfield, it would be helpful to everyone if CPS would work with all parties to enact a balanced budget package that includes comprehensive pension reform and a new and equitable school funding formula. (attributed to Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis)

And about that $215 million? The governor’s office says CPS is making cuts even as lawmakers in Springfield are working on a budget that would provide additional funds for Chicago schools. Ms Purvis wrote that CPS was trying to “arbitrarily create a crisis” with “a curiously timed and unfortunate announcement.”

Enrollment has dropped in recent years at the nation’s third-largest school district, according to the Chicago Tribune, and CPS did receive a special block grant from the state. Still, the $215 million hole is real, though its precise origin is elusive.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.