Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Teacher Protest Chicago

Hundreds of Teachers Rally to Protest School Cuts
By Jim Vail
Special to

Between 300 and 400 teachers protested threatened budget cuts at City Hall.

Hundreds of teachers adorned in red chanted various slogans to protest the threatened school cuts inside City Hall on June 22.

“Hey, hey, ho, ho … Rahm Emanuel’s got to go!” and “Money for schools, Money for books … No more money for corporate cooks!”

The Chicago Public Schools are threatening to cut 25% of each school’s budget for next school year if the state does not release more than $400 million designated for the city schools.

One teacher at the rally said that could mean laying off 8 – 9 teachers at his school.

Another teacher said she has 40 students in her class and that is unacceptable for the children.

The Chicago Teachers Union said the city as well as the state must come up with the money to fund education. The union has proposed a series of city taxes, including a financial transaction tax and releasing TIF funds to the schools.

“This is about the budget cuts,” said Carrene Beverly-Bass, a 6th grade teacher at Jensen Elementary School on the West side. “We need to let them know they need to find additional revenue.”

Bass, who has taught for over 30 years and grew up in North Lawndale near where she teaches, said it made sense to be protesting at City Hall.

“Rahm refuses to listen to what the CTU suggests for revenue,” she told Chicago News. “This is about public awareness of the cuts.”

After the loud chanting, and hearing from several community groups, the protesters were ready to descend on the City Council. However, the police cordoned off the stairs and elevators so that the teachers could not attend the monthly meeting.

The protest proceeded outside and wrapped around several city blocks, passing CPS headquarters and then headed to the state building Thompson Center. There again the state cut off the protesters from entering the building by roping together the doors.

CTU VP Jesse Sharkey tells Spanish language TV teachers will take no more cuts.

“Teachers are not here to get rich,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey told a Spanish television news reporter who asked him what about the schools’ $1 billion deficit. “The teachers have made cut after cut after cut. But we will not take any more cuts.”

The former Governor Pat Quinn was among the teachers at the protest collecting signatures to demand that the city set a two-term limit for mayors, which would make Emmanuel ineligible to run again. Former Mayor Richard Daley served over 20 years in office after his father’s likewise lengthy mayoral reign.

Quinn told Chicago News that what is happening in the budget standoff with Gov. Bruce Rauner is “horrible.”

Meanwhile, local school council members representing 130 different schools presented a letter to CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and the Chicago Board of Education demanding that the board and schools’ chief work with the city as well as the state to find budget solutions.  
“We are deeply troubled by the finger pointing in CPS and across the state, and by the lack of solutions being proposed by other elected or appointed CPS leaders to solve this budget crisis,” stated Scott Walter, parent representative on the Nettlehorst Elementary LSC. “Our district-run schools are the foundations of our neighborhoods, and it is time for all parties to come to the table and find solutions to this crisis."

Some suggestions given by the LSC signees include a comprehensive, transparent audit of all CPS contracts; an investigation, in conjunction with the CTU, into whether decreasing the school day by 30 minutes and decreasing the school year to the IL state minimum would save money; and accounting for past cost-savings measures such as revision of the busing schedule and privatization of janitors and engineers. At the city level, LSC signees suggest working with the city to declare a TIF surplus and cancelling Obama Prep. At the state level, LSC signees suggest ending Chicago’s double pension payment and finding progressive revenue sources, according to a press statement.

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