Students continue to confront gaping digital divide, lack of services for diverse learners, chaotic remote learning rollout and few trauma supports.
CHICAGO, April 28, 2020—CTU President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today in response to CPS’ release of district-wide school budget information.
“We’re glad to see what we won in the second-longest teachers’ strike in Chicago history begin to be directed towards our school communities. Our rank-and-file members won this through struggle, sacrifice and moral courage, with the support of thousands of families and community allies. Now, CPS must ensure that real equity is delivered to individual school communities, and work with parents, grassroots groups, advocates and the Union to make sure true equity becomes real in every school.
“Given the fact that this CPS budget is coming out under the looming cloud of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever that CPS lend its advocacy to the Fair Tax initiative, immediately deploy TIF reform that funds devices and hotspots for every student, and push for large scale federal fiscal support. Our school communities must have more state funds from progressive tax sources to shore up future budgets and extend equity beyond simply a short-term lift.
“Inevitably, the devil is in the details. I’m struck by the lack of detail on how the extra burden of the global COVID-19 pandemic will be addressed in the mayor’s CPS budget. CPS says it’s providing $13 million in additional funding to increase nurse, social worker and case manager staffing levels to an ‘all-time high.’ To be clear, that ‘high’ remains incredibly deficient without a nurse and a social worker in every school the minute our schools reopen.
“CPS says it’s also increasing desperately needed funds for our special education students, which begs the question of why management is not front-loading supports for these students today, as so many struggle under shelter-at-home without services. We need clarity on where those funds will be directed. CPS must also ensure that schools with declining enrollment receive the support needed to rebuild after being decimated by years of budget cuts and enrollment raiding by charter operators. The district must support school communities suffering from the impact of COVID-19 among staff and families by guaranteeing that every essential worker has access to PPE, and provide truly clean and safe school buildings.
“And tens of thousands of students who lack devices and broadband access need those remote learning tools today—not next fall.
“The mayor must expedite the hiring of nurses and social workers, also for this fall, not years from now. By September, she must ensure that CPS is providing support for long-underfunded South and West side school communities, smaller class sizes, English language learners, homeless students, and our immigrant students and families, regardless of documentation. And she must meet these needs in a climate of transparency, accountability and democratic engagement—an approach that would mark a massive shift in City Hall’s secretive, opaque governance.
“Most critically, she must move equity from paper to reality, which requires an immediate end to student-based budgeting.
“We remain committed to working with the mayor and her appointed Board of Education collaboratively, and we’ll continue to bargain with management to ensure that its promises become real in our schools and in our communities.”