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When silence is not golden... While City Council members explode about CPS finance lies, Chicago Teachers Union and Karen Lewis are conspicuously silent as a result of their partnership with CPS on financial obfuscations...

Since they first promulgated the "Broke on Purpose" party line from the Chicago Teachers Union in 2015, CTU president Karen Lewis and vice president Jesse Sharkey (above) have refused to take a critical look at CPS finances. One result is that long-time CTU allies in the City Council are not receiving any independent analysis from the union about the realities of CPS finances as the CTU partner Forrest Claypool continues to stonewall City Council on behalf of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.The news from Chicago's City Council was explosive on April 18, 2017, as members of the Council exploded publicly demanding to know why officials of the Chicago Public Schools are refusing to provide the Council with precise answers about CPS claims that it is facing a "financial crisis" that will force an early closing of schools in June 2017. But one organization that should be speaking out loudly is silent: The Chicago Teachers Union, since it began its partnership (called "Broke on Purpose") with Claypool in 2015 has refused to provide independent analysis of CPS finances. As a result, despite the fact that CTU President Karen Lewis is rarely one to avoid the media limelight, CTU has not been helping its City Council allies to sort through the latest lies coming out of CPS.

The silence from the CTU about current CPS finances and the threat by CPS Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool to close schools in June is not surprising. Since 2015, CTU officials have joined with CPS to claim that the only solutions to Chicago public schools financial problems have to come from "Springfield." CTU even developed a BROKE ON PURPOSE logo which for a time was attached to its statements about CPS finances. CTU officials have also failed to testify at the various budget hearings held by CPS in August 2016, October 2016 and February 2017 as the various iterations of the budget were put forward to the public.

It is a party line version of reality. As a result, CTU has basically joined itself with every twist and turn of CPS claims about the financial situation, without an independent voice. [Disclosure: I was the CTU budget analysis until dumped by Karen

Lewis because I wouldn't go along with the "Broke on Purpose" mandacities...]

SUN-TIMSE REPORT OF APRIL 19, 2017

Aldermen vent at CPS as June 1 closing date draws closer, Chicago Sun-Times, CHICAGO 04/18/2017, 09:55pm by Fran Spielman

Chicago aldermen on Tuesday [April 18, 2017] unleashed their anger at being left in the dark as time grows short to solve a financial crisis at the Chicago Public Schools that threatens to cut the school year three weeks short.

The City Council’s Finance Committee took no action on a long-stalled ordinance that would automatically forward to the schools surplus tax increment financing funds in any year when CPS is in financial distress.

Finance Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) said the ordinance championed by Ald. George Cardenas (12th), chairman of the City Council’s Hispanic Caucus, needs work before a final vote is taken.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who used $87.5 million in surplus TIF funds to stave off another teachers strike, is determined to stall a vote to avoid letting the Illinois General Assembly off the hook.

But sensing the mounting frustration with the financial secrecy of Schools CEO Forrest Claypool, Burke allowed a hearing on the issue to give aldermen someplace to go with their anger before they explode.

“People in this city need an answer. This is getting ridiculous. … Where’s Mr. Claypool? Where is the board? And when are we gonna get an answer about the future of our children?” said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), one of the Chicago Teachers Union’s staunchest City Council allies.

Waguespack said he is “sick and tired of taking all the calls without being able to give an answer” to parents who want to know whether the school year will be cut short.

“It’s just getting to the point of insanity where there is zero leadership from the people who are supposed to exhibit that leadership. What are we supposed to tell our kids and our parents? Wait another day? Wait another week? Wait until June 1, and let’s see if you’re lucky enough to have a parent who stays at home?” Waguespack said.

“If somebody from CPS, namely Mr. Claypool, would step up here once in a while — at least once a year — and tell us what’s going on, that might be a little more helpful. But we’ve gotten zippo from those guys.”

Ald. John Arena (45th) noted that Claypool’s threat to end the school year on June 1 has dramatic consequences in a city struggling with unrelenting gang violence and the bloodshed that it triggers.

“When CPS says the date that school will end is going to be three weeks earlier, that’s not just about our kids not getting the full year of education. That’s about public safety. That’s about … where these kids are going to be during the day. And not just during the school day. Our schools are sanctuaries and refuges after school, before school for many children in this city,” Arena said.

“We have to do this now. There is not time to wait because the date is coming. And our kids need this refuge or this summer will be a harder summer for families in this city than we all want to accept. That is the reality that we’re looking at here.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a bill that would have provided $215 million in pension help, already built into the CPS budget, has prompted several rounds of budget cuts and furlough days.

CPS also has threatened to end the school year three weeks early and dramatically reduce summer school if the pension help is not forthcoming in time for the broke school system to make a state-mandated $730 million payment to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund due on June 30.

“As a result of Gov. Rauner’s racially discriminatory funding system, our students have been shortchanged by $500 million this year,” CPS spokesman Michael Passman said in a statement ahead of a Wednesday court hearing on a lawsuit brought against the state by CPS. “The court set an expedited schedule, and we will provide families with clarity on the length of the school year after the court rules. CPS would not be facing these horrible choices if Gov. Rauner took action to ensure our students received the same state funding that predominately white school districts in the rest of Illinois receive.”

Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis responded with a statement, saying Rauner created a bipartisan school funding commission to improve the state’s school funding formula.

“Instead of pointing fingers and blaming decades of fiscal mismanagement on a governor who has been in office for two years, CPS should be urging legislators to pass a balanced budget that includes changes to our education system in Illinois that will better meet the needs of every student,” Purvis said.

Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said Chicago Public Schools are “well past the tipping point” and unable to “sustain themselves” financially.

But he warned that a solution in Springfield is unlikely so long as the marathon state budget stalemate drags on. That puts the City Council on the hot seat.

“CPS and this council have to be on the same page. … If Springfield isn’t gonna solve this, we have to work together. But that requires a dialogue,” he said.

“There are real downsides long-term to our city if we don’t get this right and soon. And that is, people are leaving. CPS has lost 30,000 students in the last few years. And there’s more this year and more to come. We have to get this right. If we don’t, it’s gonna undercut the future of our city.”

Cardenas acknowledged that the TIF surplus ordinance was debated last year. The difference now is the sense of urgency.

“Some of you call it a song and dance. But we’re dancing again,” Cardenas said. “People want to be heard.

“Constituents want to let us know how they feel. For us to understand their circumstances and how they can’t plan in their own lives when it comes to their jobs, when it comes to child care. They can’t plan something as simple as just taking the day off because they don’t know if they’re gonna have to use those days later on. They can’t get sick because they may have to use a sick day as well when the need really arises.”

Earlier this month, Emanuel refused to say whether he was prepared to borrow money, raid tax-increment financing funds or raise taxes again to prevent schools from closing three weeks early.

Contributing: Mitch Armentrout and Lauren FitzPatrick



Comments:

April 25, 2017 at 1:17 PM

By: Rod Estvan

nothing will happen until Friday

CPS Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool will do nothing until this Friday when the great CPS funding discrimination law suit will either be dismissed or go forward. CPS is seeking injunctive relief from the court – asking that Cook County Chancery Court Judge Franklin Valderrama order the state to help fund that budget shortfall.

Jenner & Block LLP, of Chicago is representing some of the parent complainants in this case. CPS General Counsel Ronald L. Marmer is still receiving severance payments from Jenner & Block and Forrest Claypool also formerly worked for Jenner & Block.

Claypool argues simply: “Our children are 20 percent of enrollment but receive only 15 percent of funding (inclusive of teacher pension payments statewide). That’s a $500 million annual gap.” Claypool also says it is racist because CPS is a majority minority students. By the way the good Father Pfleger totally agrees with Claypool, he also agreed with Mayor Daley about most things too.

Rauner’s lawyers argued that pensions are not k-12 education funding. They also argued how Illinois education dollars are distributed falls within the purview of state lawmakers and the governor under the State constitution and it’s not for CPS to decide.

If CPS should win injunctive relief Rauner’s lawyers argued other poor districts in Illinois would likely take funding cuts to transfer the money to CPS because high property value school districts get relatively little general state aid. The State's arguments received almost no coverage in the Chicago media by the way.

I have serious doubts that Judge Valderrama will want to order the State to pay up on Friday. Amazing things on occasion happen, but not too often.

Rod Estvan

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