3 ways for Chicagoans to advocate for our schools (and against 40% CPS budget cuts to students) this week

Perhaps you are feeling a little hopeless or powerless in the face of the looming CPS budget cuts. Fellow ChicagoNow blogger Annie Swingen is here to help you. Her blog isn’t usually education-related, but she has a kid in CPS now, so she’s been inadvertently swept up into the morass of our district’s ongoing problems, which she understands and explains very well.

Annie is a communications professional, freelance writer, and humor blogger living the dream in Chicago. She writes about her strong-willed CPS kindergartner, nerdy husband, and high-maintenance (and often unreasonable) mother on her ChicagoNow blog, SwirleytimeIn addition to ChicagoNow, she’s a regular contributor to parenting website Mommy Nearest and has written for the parenting section of the Chicago Tribune and Modern Day MS among other outlets. Here’s Annie:

Chicago Public Schools are scheduled to run a $1B deficit in the 2016-17 school year. That’s one billion dollars, with a ‘B’.

Why? Well, it’s due to a number of factors including toxic-swap deals (AKA risky borrowing maneuvers that ended up costing the taxpayers millions more in fees and interest), corrupt contracts (e.g., SUPES – $20 million, Aramark food ($97 million/year) and janitorial services ($260 million/three years) and of course running the teacher pension fund into the ground.

Then there was that whole sneaky attempt to cut Special Ed funding last fall and another $120 million cut in February of this year.

And now, in a hurricane of hyperbole, CPS went from threatening to cut 20% of 2016-17 student-based budget funds to nearly 40% if the state doesn’t pony up. The former cut is untenable and the latter, well, devastating.

But we aren’t powerless.

What can you do?

  1. A sample flyer I filled out with a neighborhood school's info.

    A sample flyer I filled out with a neighborhood school’s info.

    Download a customizable flyer created by the ever vigilant public school advocates at Illinois Raise your Hands (RYH).

Fill in your kid’s school info (or neighborhood school info) with the projected budget cut amount listed here, call your legislators to voice your dissent and share the flyer with five neighbors and ask them to do the same. It takes ten minutes and will educate those who may not be as tuned in to public school matters.

Confirm your state Senator’s number here and Alderman’s info here.

2. Willing to voice your opinion in-person? RYH is hosting a rally downtown on Wed 5/25 (Facebook event details here) It will be staged at the Thompson Center (100 West Randolph) from 9-10 AM.

Details from their website:

Rally for Sustainable Funding at the RYH Billion Dollar Bake Sale:
As the state and city stall on funding solutions to save our schools, RYH will gather parents for a fake bake sale where we’ll log 1K calls to our state and city elected officials demanding sustainable revenue.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 25 at 9AM

WHERE: Thompson Center (Meet at the outside plaza area on Randolph and Washington)

No more half-baked solutions:
The state, the city and CPS need to go all in to fund our schools. We can’t budget-slash or bake-sale our way out of this fiscal mess. Time to up the advocacy efforts!

Parents – help us hit the 1K mark for phone calls. Grab your friends who care about saving public education in Chicago and join us to advocate!

Bring your signs showing the estimated amount of cuts at your school, your enthusiasm for learning new tips on advocacy, and any baked goods you’d like to contribute [the bake sale is of course in jest].

3. Parents and community members alike can also attend one of a number of CPS-hosted Town Hall meetings scheduled to occur this week to learn more about proposed cuts and voice their opinions.

Agassiz Forum, May 23

Kennedy Forum, May 23

Palmer Forum, May 24

Taft Forum, May 24

Bateman Elementary, May 24, 6pm

Darwin Elementary, May 24, 6pm

Linne Elementary, May 24, 5pm

Networks 4, 5 & 6; Clemente HS, May 24, 10am – 12pm

Marine Leadership Academy March, May 21, 9am

DuSable Campus, May 25th, 6 to 8pm

CPS principals have planned these on the fly, and CPS administration isn’t publicizing. Let’s fill up the auditoriums!

Please consider helping this week–these cuts will not only impact the families of CPS’ 400,000 students and 32,000 public school staffers, but the overall health of our city.

Find Swirleytime on Facebook and Twitter and click here to join the blog’s spam-free mailing list for ditties emailed straight to your inbox. Email Annie at: swirleytime@gmail.com.

If you want a better Chicago Public Schools system please like my Facebook page and join me there for more discussion. You can also follow me on twitter @foolforcps.

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