Yesterday, during a tour of Chicago Tech incubator 1871, Governor Bruce Rauner blasted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and likened our public schools to prisons.
“The simple fact is that when you look objectively at the state of Chicago Public Schools, many of them are inadequate. Many of them are woeful, and some are just tragic. Many of them are basically almost crumbling prisons. They’re not a place a young person should be educated,” Rauner said.
According to a May 2016 Tribune op-ed penned by Chicago City Council Education Committee Chairman Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st), we're slated to receive only $.69 for every $1.00 sent to other districts on average for the 2016-2017 academic year. While we want equitable funding (i.e. funding based on need, not student enrollment numbers), equal would certainly be considered progress given that Illinois is in a race to the bottom in state school funding and since 2009, has cut over $1 billion in education funding, according to Crain's Chicago.
Governor, you cut our power and then call us outmoded for working by candlelight. But here's the thing, Bruce: We're still working. That is far more than your administration and the Illinois legislature can say for itself as we enter fiscal year two without a state budget.
While many Illinois politicians spend their days pointing fingers and berating our schools, CPS parents and staff remain committed and loyal to our public system. Don't let the former's blustery rhetoric tell you otherwise--CPS success stories abound.
In the last four weeks alone:
While Chicago politicians wring their hands regarding the city's ongoing gun violence problems, CPS students fight back. In May 2016, West Lawn's Hubbard High School students organized an anti-gun violence advocacy program. #notbroken
Hubbard is projected to lose $4M with the 43% budget cut that all CPS schools face in the coming year.
- Seventh-graders at Tilton STEM Elementary located in Garfield Park, learned how to fabricate and fit artificial limbs in the designing of a prosthetic hand, while third-graders presented a poster on the engineering design process during STEM career night. #notbroken
Tilton is projected to lose over $606,000 in September.
- Beverly resident and Chicago High School for the Agricultural Sciences senior Madeline Poole is one of 160 students nationwide to be named a U.S. Presidential Scholar. Poole credits her Ag research (which has taken her around the world) as the primary reason for her award. The class valedictorian plans to head to the University of Illinois in the fall to continue her research. #notbroken
Chicago High School for the Ag Sciences is projected to lose nearly $1.7M next academic year.
Last week, Old Irving Park's Belding Elementary hosted its third annual International Fest in celebration of the school's (and neighborhood's) diversity. Hundreds of staff members, neighbors, students, and their families joined together to enjoy student and professional dance performances, art demonstrations and activities, ethnic food and more. #notbroken
Belding is projected to lose over $1M when school opens.
- Curie High School's a capella ensemble, Musicality, appears on this season of America's Got Talent; their IB Diploma Programme had the highest pass rate in CPS at 92%; they are 9-time consecutive City Water Polo champions; two teachers are Oppenheim Award winners; and art classes collaborated with the Museum of Contemporary Art to make a film. #notbroken
Curie is projected to lose $6.475M in probable budget cuts in the fall.
- Seniors at Kenwood Academy High School have received $19.6M in college scholarships this spring. With 27 Gates Millennium Scholars since the program began, Kenwood leads the nation. There are 4 Gates Millennium Scholars this year, and 4 Golden Apple Scholars. #notbroken
Kenwood is expected to lose $3.5M in the coming year.
The governor may get carried away with his own ridiculous rhetoric about the tragedy of crumbling school-prisons, but the only real tragedy here is that our schools aren't funded nearly as well as our prisons. He may think this rhetoric makes him sound caring and empathetic, but actually it makes him sound uninformed and foolish.
It's plain to anyone who actually steps into our schools that they are not broken, not failing, not prisons. They are working. Though students may learn a valuable lesson next fall about the consequences of state and city inaction, it's time we hold our elected officials accountable. Imagine how much more we can do with equitable funding.
The legislature plans to meet every Wednesday through June 2016; call your state representatives and Governor Rauner (217-782-0244) every day until they pass a budget. Every call counts.
For more CPS success stories visit non-profit public education advocate Raise Your Hand for IL Public Education's tumblr page, CPSuccess and sign up for their newsletter for updates and action items. The students pictured at the top of this page are Kenwood scholarship winners photographed by Owen Lawson III for the Hyde Park Herald.
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