Bruce Rauner proposes state takeover of Chicago Public Schools

Claire Bentley, Editor-in-Chief

A month into 2016 and it’s hard to go without hearing about Chicago’s plights concerning the economic state of Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
With the state government failing to come up with a budget, which has caused a $480 million deficit in educational funding, public schools around Chicago have faced teacher lay-offs, and with that, a depletion of academic resources. Among protests, rallies, and speeches, CPS students and teachers have been waiting for a realistic solution proposed by the state government.
In January, Illinois Senate Republican leaders proposed legislation to allow CPS to declare bankrupcy and follow state oversight of the school district.
Previously, CPS has never been allowed to declare bankruptcy. A money crisis within CPS has happened twice in the past.
In 1980, a Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) walkout lasted 10 days after CPS had failed to come up with a budget in response to the millions of dollars of debt that the public school system had acquired
And in 1995, when Republicans in office handed control of the city’s schools and financial flexibilty to then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. He reduced teacher pension payments, but in effect caused soaring retirement funding that is the major factor in the financial problems the school district faces.
If Rauner’s proposal were to be adapted, Democrats would have to also be in agreement for the proposal to become law. But Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton have accused Rauner of using this financial crisis as an excuse to curb unionization of workers, and distract the attention of the citizens for lack of a budget.
Rauner spoke out about CPS and the management of the city run by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, saying that, “Chicago always seems to be treated differently,” while suggesting that Emanuel has been neglecting his job and fears confronting the CTU.
“He’s failed on public safety, he’s failed on schools, he’s failed on jobs in the neighborhoods, he’s failed on taxes, he’s failed on reforms. And I’m tired of it. We have to take action.” Rauner said.
While the state wants CPS to file for bankruptcy, Emanuel voiced that what the state should actually be doing is passing a budget to fully fund CPS education if they want to improve the public schools in Chicago at all.
Rauner shot back, telling Chicago Tribune reporters that all the mayor has is a Board of Education budet proposal is for the state government to give the city half a billion dollars, which is “not a reasonable position for the Mayor to take.”
Chicago Public School’s CEO Forrest Claypool dismissed Rauner’s comments and said that the CTU and district negotiators have met to replace the contract that expired over the summer.
The student body at WY has had a variety of mixed feelings. Plenty of seniors are relieved that they’ll be out of the CPS system when they attend college next school year.
JaKayla Morales, ‘17 finds that it’s frustrating to have to be a student in the middle of the CPS political uproar. “Why should the state be in charge of a citys’ public schools? That’s the same as California taking control over all of the public schools in Los Angeles, or the state of New York taking control over all the public schools in New York City. I don’t see how the government can watch over the thousands of kids trying to get their education.”
While the solution still remains unclear, a letter was sent out addressed to all CPS parents and teachers written by CPS Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool and Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson, after the CTU bargaining team unanimously rejected a contract offer made by the Chicago Board of Education.
With the second semester looming for 400,00 students, the letter discussed the efforts being made between the CTU and the Board of Education to finalize a contract. Both parties have acknowledged that they are “making progress toward agreement.” As this paper went to press an agreement had not been reached.