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The 443 educator layoffs in Chicago Public Schools underscore ongoing failure of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s handpicked Board of Education to provide every school community with adequate funding for basic needs.

CHICAGO, July 13, 2021 — The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement today in wake of the release of Mayor Lightfoot’s CPS’ 2021-22 budget.

“The mayor, who runs our schools and our city, has access to unprecedented resources for school communities that no Chicago mayor has seen in a generation. CPS must use those funds for the recovery that our students and their families need, and not just from the worst pandemic in a century, but for the problems that the pandemic has exacerbated: housing and income insecurity, racial disinvestment, unaddressed triggers to violence and decades of educational inequity.

“The collective action of our rank-and-file members has forced the mayor and CPS to make investments in positions we won in our 11-day strike in 2019, including more nurses and social workers for long neglected schools. The dogged advocacy of members like disabled school clerk Judy Mahoney and parents across the city has forced some additional investments in critical needs like ADA accommodations. Grassroots groups continue to mobilize and push the mayor for real equity in our schools through the TLC campaign.

“Yet at a time when our schools need progressive transformation the most, and when money is available to honor our students and their families’ sacrifice of the last 16 months, CPS is maintaining its backwards ‘schools below budget’ student-based budgeting formula and failing to equitably fund our schools. CPS’ “Moving Forward Together” plan continues to lack meaningful benchmarks, true stakeholder input, or support for proven programs like ‘Sustainable Community Schools’ — critical elements if we are to truly address students’ and schools’ real needs.

“What students need now is clear: a nurse and a social worker in every school, immediately; developmentally appropriate class sizes; massive and sustained in-school student vaccination programs; and sweeping expansion of sustainable community schools to provide support to students through integrated school-community partnerships. Our schools need HVAC improvements that meet ventilation safety standards that protect us in this new era of airborne viruses. Every one of our students needs a decent, working computer and fast, reliable internet access at school and at home. We need robust support for the 20,000 CPS students experiencing homelessness; reliable high-speed Internet and computers for every student; appropriate and fully resourced special education services and resources, to reverse years of illegal underfunding; and an expansion of elementary school sports and after-school activities.

“This level of investment from the federal government should mark the beginning of ongoing sustainable funding for schools at a much higher level — the level our students and school communities need and deserve. The mayor should be at the forefront of advocating for sustainable school funding, and not just temporary recovery dollars. She has the ability to address all of these needs — and it’s time for her to find the political will to deliver on providing every Chicago student and family with the right to recovery.”

The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, 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.ctulocal1.org.