While CPS has won over $1 billion in new funds since 2015, mayor continues to bilk taxpayers and deny vital resources to classrooms, students.
CHICAGO, IL—The Illinois legislature passed a new state budget – with CPS scheduled to receive a significant portion of the additional education funding in the bill.
“We’re demanding that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel put those funds into classrooms and educational needs,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “Those funds must go to support special education and staffing to reduce classroom sizes, CPS’ contractually promised sustainable community schools pilot project that Emanuel has been dragging his heels on implementing, and other critical front-line educational needs. Anything less is a betrayal of our students, their parents and our city.”
CPS has received more than $1 billion in additional annual revenue since the 2015-16 school year. It would cost CPS $10 million – a tiny fraction of its annual budget – to fund the Sustainable Community Schools pilot project it agreed to deploy in its most recent CTU contract, yet Emanuel’s school officials continue to slow-walk implementation. The project is designed to provide under-resourced school communities with trauma supports, wrap-around services, educational programming and community engagement that builds rich learning environments and a pathway to lifelong success for students.
Emanuel’s hand-picked CPS officials said earlier this year that they would provide $60 million to hold schools harmless on budget cuts related to enrollment declines for the coming school year. But schools began reporting big cuts to budgets and staff after CPS issued budgets last month. Emanuel’s school officials have also continued to ignore the very needs that the new state funding formula is designed to remedy – including a dire shortage of counselors, social workers and support for wrap-around services for low-income students, who make up the bulk of Chicago’s public school population.
Emanuel has touted his support for early childhood education since he was elected, and has expanded free, full-day pre-K in the city’s wealthiest neighborhood. But Wednesday, he said it would take 3-4 years to implement his newly announced expansion of early childhood education, which will only serve 4-year-olds. While Emanuel promised to provide $175 million to support that pre-K expansion, he’s failed to identify new revenue to fund his promise. Last month, CPS forked over a $1.1 million payment to Goldman Sachs and its fellow ‘social impact bond’ investors, part of the repayment of a $17 million bond that was supposed to expand early childhood education – particularly for low-income children. The bond could potentially double the return to investors – at taxpayer expense.
But enrollment in pre-K programs has fallen by 18% since Emanuel took office, including a sharp drop in enrollment in the last two years.
Emanuel has closed more than 60 schools, but failed to provide evidence of savings from the closures, while students impacted by those closures suffer from worse educational outcomes. Emanuel has refused to support progressive revenue sources, denied funds for trauma-related services and class size reduction, and purged thousands of veteran Black educators from CPS.
“For seven years, Emanuel has spent precious public education dollars on whatever he wants – including hundreds of millions on private contracts and insider deals that have failed our students and bilked taxpayers,” said Sharkey. “This mayor has consistently rejected the appeals of parents, educators and neighborhood residents for desperately needed support for our students and our schools. Instead, he’s eagerly chased headlines with his endless failed promises, and ignored the harm that his education policies have had on our children. He’s exacerbated education inequality for our schoolchildren, and his failed control of our schools must end. We demand that he put these new funds into our classrooms and our students’ futures. And we demand that he end his obstruction of state legislation that would allow Chicagoans to elect their own school board – a representative school board that can provide our schools with the accountability, transparency and ethical governance that we deserve.”