Karen Lewis on the vote by the unelected CPS board to close the largest number of public schools in American history.
“Today is a day of mourning for the children of Chicago. Their education has been hijacked by an unrepresentative, unelected corporate school board, acting at the behest of a mayor who has no vision for improving the education of our children. Closing schools is not an education plan. It is a scorched earth policy. Evidence shows that the underutilization crisis has been manufactured. Their own evidence also shows the school district will not garner any significant savings from closing these schools.
“This is bad governance. CPS has consistently undermined school communities and sabotaged teachers and parents. Their actions have had a horrible domino effect. More than 40,000 students will lose at least three to six months of learning because of the Board’s actions. Because many of them will now have to travel into new neighborhoods to continue their schooling, some will be victims of bullying, physical assault and other forms of violence. Board members are wishing for a world that does not exist and have ignored the reality of the world we live in today. Who on the Board will be held responsible? Who at City Hall will be held responsible?
“Members of the Board of Education, the school CEO, the mayor and their corporate backers are on the wrong side of history. History will judge them for the tragedy they have inflicted upon our students; and it will not be kind.
“Our fight for education justice has now moved to the courts, but it must eventually move to the ballot box. The parents are amazing leaders in their school communities and because of this administration’s actions we have all become closer and more united. We must resist this neoliberal savagery masquerading as school reform. We must resist racism in all of its forms as well as the escalating attacks on the working –class and the poor. Our movement will continue.”
While the IEA and the We Are One coalition of state public employee unions are wrong on their support for SB2404, we do agree on the harm that will be caused by Speaker Madigan’s proposal for a cost shift to local communities of pension costs.
It will cause great harm to those communities who are already cash strapped. It will contribute to an even greater gap between rich and poor communities in their ability to afford quality education.
It is a further attack on teacher and other educational employees’ compensation.
From the IEA:
Rumors at the Statehouse indicate Speaker Madigan’s proposal to shift the state’s costs for employee pensions to local school districts and local taxpayers could come up for a vote in the Illinois House today. This measure could drastically reduce programs and personnel in local school districts.
Please call 888-412-6570 and tell your state representative to VOTE NO ON ANY BILL CONTAINING THE COST SHIFT.
Watch as Representative Nekritz and Senger discuss how SB1 compares to SB2404 when it comes to robbing pensioners. VIDEO
Representatives Nekritz and Senger meet with reporters in this video.
They are talking to reporters about the relative savings to the pension debt of Madigan’s SB1 and We Are One/Cullerton’s SB2404.
In the absence of any plan to address state revenues, when they say the word savings, replace it with the words constitutionally protected pension benefits.
Their savings are taken – stolen – in both bills from our benefits.
The thieves are only arguing over how much to steal.
Curtis is a retired teacher and member of our new Skokie IEA-Retired chapter.
This whole school closing plan is a part of a political ploy. In typical fashion the mayor and CPS leaders announce initially that there will be 54 school closings. Knowing there will be an outcry from Chicago residents in opposition and knowing that there will be a fight.
This news terrorizes the parent’s teachers and children as fear of the unknown and nightmares of the danger zone (s) set in. But the real goal here is to threaten to close 54 schools in order to get what they really want. And that is to make it appear that they (CPS) have heard the public cries and considered the needs and wishes of students and parents. The best way to close 40 schools without as much opposition is to start with the greater number of 54 and make it look like considerations have been made.
If this theoretical outcome develops, (40/54) parents will feel like something was accomplished, that their voices were heard and many will back off in support of the new plan. But they’ll be back for more school closings no matter what!
Sounds a little like the potential threats to diminish our pension and health care benefits.
If active teachers and retirees are made to fear that we may lose it all, or have little or no choice, it becomes more acceptable in the minds of many to leave with a 60/40 or 80/20 split.
I remember when I negotiated our first collective bargaining agreement. We were made to start from scratch with no rights, no protections and no benefits! This psychological plan was to make each and every stride, each concession look like a step toward the greater end. This ploy worked for a while until we got to the point where we wanted to and demanded to be on par with our neighboring school districts. That’s when the real fight began.
And the real fight for Chicago is to maintain access to good neighborhood public schools and rid ourselves of the plague that reeks within.
So Illinois is in such dire financial shape that it must violate the contractual retirement agreements with teachers and other state workers. I’ve taught at the University of Illinois since 1979 and am one of those who would be cheated by the bills under discussion in the legislature.
Why stop there? The crisis should require every company with a state contract get paid 20 percent less, and every company with a state concession should pay 20 percent more. I’m looking at you, casinos. This is an emergency!
We all know such actions are unrealistic and near impossible. Companies make business decisions based on signed contracts. You can’t change them after commitments have been made.
Well, people are corporations too, my friend. People are corporations too.
- Bruce Reznick, Urbana
In typical Rahm fashion, four more schools have been removed from the closing list.
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is expected to withdraw her recommendations to shutter Marcus Garvey Elementary School and Mahalia Jackson Elementary School on the South Side; Leif Ericson Elementary Scholastic Academy on the West Side, and George Manierre Elementary School on the Near North Side, according to a source familiar with her deliberations.
These were always among the more controversial targets of the closing plan.
But later today the board will go ahead and vote to shut down the others on the Mayor’s list.
Protesters will gather at board headquarters this morning.
But this is Chicago. The vote is a done deal.
So is the fight back.
Because this is Chicago.