Emanuel’s token funding for schools cannot erase injustice of multi-billion dollar handouts to wealthy developers, academy project jammed through over community opposition, as Black male youth are pushed out of CPS—or die—before they can graduate.
CHICAGO, March 19, 2019—CTU President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today in the wake of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s announcement of more funding for 32 schools.
“Emanuel and CPS have admitted they are flush with cash this year. Yet instead of making every school whole in the wake of years of his devastating budget cuts. Emanuel has again handed out token assistance to a fraction of the public schools that need them. To do more—and to do better by our students—Rahm would have to end his handouts to the wealthy developers that have backed his regime. He would have to listen to the groundswell of community residents that vigorously opposed his $95 million expenditure on a new cop academy—a project we can expect to balloon in price as past mayoral ‘legacy’ projects have. He would have to forgo a $1.3 billion giveaway of public dollars to Sterling Bay—a company that does not need that money.
“Today, Emanuel handed off token funding to 32 schools, when over a hundred applied for those supports. Meanwhile, class sizes top 40 students in some classrooms at Grissom, Washington Elementary still needs a new roof that parents and teachers have been clamoring for for years, and special education in hundreds of neighborhood schools is in a state of freefall. Under Emanuel’s leadership, school libraries fell from 454 in 2013 to 139 in 2017. Hundreds of millions of dollars in his budget cuts remain baked in to schools’ budgets. Public schools are plagued by a desperate lack of investment in bilingual education. Dire shortages of school nurses, counselors, psychologists, restorative justice staff and wrap-around supports. These are the kinds of resources the mayor could count on when he went to school and that he ensured his own children had access to. Our students deserve no less.
“Today’s meager funding for a handful of schools only underscores the critical financial shortfalls that hundreds of our public schools continue to confront. The mayor’s relentless efforts to spin his distorted priorities and public education bloodletting into something positive cannot cover up this disaster. Even his endless crowing about graduation rates hides the fact that, as WBEZ’s Sarah Karp reported today, the number of Black male teens erased from the graduation rate because they either transfer out of CPS or die before they can graduate is going up—not down.
“There is nothing positive about Emanuel’s bitter legacy of dictatorial and distorted funding priorities, and Chicago cannot be rid of him quickly enough.”