CPS teachers push through budget cuts

Gov. Rauner has made comments toward CPS teachers that work to teach in under-resourced schools and classrooms.
Gov. Rauner has made comments toward CPS teachers that work to teach in under-resourced schools and classrooms.

Back in 2011, when Gov. Bruce Rauner was a private equity executive who was participating with the Chicago Public Education Fund, he labeled half of CPS teachers as “virtually illiterate” in an email sent out to education reform activists.

According to The Associated Press, he continued on by stating that half of its principals are “managerially incompetent.” These rather crude statements were released by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s staff under a court order. On July 22, his spokesman, Lance Trover, issued an apology on behalf of Governor Rauner for his past comments. Later in the day, Rauner then publicly apologized himself.

“It’s really offensive,” said an Arnold Mireles Elementary Academy CPS teacher, who chose to remain unnamed. “I have a Masters degree and had to pass other certifications to become a teacher, I don’t know what he is talking about. No teachers I know are illiterate.”

CPS is currently at the spotlight of Chicago politics, due to a lack of resources, teacher and staff positions being cut, and with only a budget of a $100 million for all of Chicago’s 660 public schools, CPS should remain under stringent watch when the academic year resumes for all city students in the fall.

Two days before the stopgap budget was signed by Gov. Rauner, Senate President John Cullerton and House of Representative speaker Michael Madigan, were stubborn for CPS. They were refusing the stopgap budget until it was decided CPS was to receive a lot more funding.

The state’s stopgap budget was released from Springfield on June 29, a partial spending plan was decided which ensured that schools would remain open for another school year. $500 million is to be rewarded for Ill. schools in which Chicago is to receive $100 million of. Initially $400 million was wanted by Democrats for CPS prior to the budget’s release.

“With only $100 million as CPS’ budget, positions will continue to be lost within schools,” said the Mireles Elementary CPS teacher. “Those can either be teachers or less 660 throughout all of CPS.”

Recently, DNAInfo Chicago and Chicago Tribune released a database containing very single Chicago Public School as well as its budget cuts for the 2016 school year, which can be compared to the schools’ budget for this upcoming year. The report stated how out of the 660 public schools, 443 schools will recieve significantly less funding.

For Mireles Elementary specifically, it has lost a total of $382,622 from its budget. Meaning it will have to operate with $382,622 less from last school year.

The low budget meant text books were no longer available for students meaning teachers like the Mireles Elementary school teacher need to find lesson plans online. She then prints out around a 100 copies of lesson plans for each subject. The school also has a lack of essential resources, including paper.

At DePaul University’s Egan Office for Urban Education and Community Partnerships, located in the Steans Center, Assistant Director, Lourdes Sullivan is well aware of CPS’ ongoing problem.

Sullivan helps manage the schools partnership program, which places DePaul students in private Catholic schools or public schools throughout Chicago. Due to the increasingly worsening of CPS’ condition, she has found the program developing a new holistic approach to aid the public schools DePaul students work directly with.

“The program is working to connect the schools to community resources by making sustainable relationships,” said Sullivan. “We are a connector and a resource finder for them.”

Such as when DePaul’s School of Nursing rebuilt their curriculum, service learning was decided to be part of their program. Sullivan noticed how public schools partnered with DePaul didn’t have nurses, therefore a proposal was crafted in how DePaul nursing students could be utilized within the public schools.

“We used to assign students to our tutors for one-on-one, but since CPS’ cut backs caused classroom assistants to be cut,” said Sullivan. “Now tutors our filling those positions.”

This similar issue occurred to the Mireles Elementary teacher, the low budget meant she had to loose her classroom assistant among other resources.

“There are some leaders that believe the government should have more equity between diverse groups of people,” said Sullivan. “We should even out the playing field. Funding for schools comes from property taxes, but that only benefits the wealthy, they have higher taxes. Therefore, the funding is already uneven.”

CPS Mireles elementary teacher thinks that a step in the positive direction would be to change the funding formula for education in Chicago. The education funding formula refers to per-pupil spending. The $100 million given to Chicago public schools will be divided between the 660 schools depending on the amount of student’s enrolled in the school. This leaves the school principal with the large responsibility to decide how he or she will do that.

This can become problematic in the case where special education students are present, since special-ed students usually require more resources, therefore more money, these students will potentially not be able to recieve the extra funds they need to receive a fulfilling education.

CPS teachers and principals have a heavy task on their shoulders. Every school day, they must answer the question of how they will most effectively teach their growing amount of students with fewer resources than the year before.

So when Gov. Rauner makes degrading comments in reference to teachers being “illiterate” and principals being “incompetent,” nothing more far-fetched from reality can be stated. CPS teachers, principals, and staff as well as the students are in such a tight position, only aid such as the kind that Sullivan provides is welcome and necessary.

Gov. Rauner should be informed that CPS teachers sure do know how to read and principals are definitely competent. They have to be competent since they need to figure out how to manage and fund their school’s with their portion of the $100 million he gave them to work with for this whole upcoming school year.