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Gov. Rauner's Broken Promise to Chicago's Students: What It Means for Schools

Dear Families:
 
Governor Rauner, just like President Trump, has decided to attack those who need the most help. Governor Rauner and President Trump regularly attack Chicago because they hope to score political points. It is shameful.
 
Most recently, Governor Rauner broke his word by blocking Chicago from receiving $215 million for our schools. That $215 million was supposed to be a first step – just a first step --- toward treating your children fairly. That $215 million was supposed to be a first step toward providing your children with their fair share of the dollars Illinois spends on children in the rest of Illinois. But Governor Rauner broke his word and did not take even that first step.
 
Governor Rauner's decision to take $215 million from CPS forces us to make some tough choices. You will not like these cuts. We don't like them either. In fact, we are very, very angry that we have to make them.
 
We are writing to let you know about two of the biggest cuts that Governor Rauner has forced us to make right now.
 
First, we imposed four furlough days on all CPS employees. We chose four days when students would not be in school. But those four days are important for our principals, teachers, and other staff to do their work.
 
Second, we froze more than $50 million of spending by the schools. You should know that the $50 million was not for fancy frills or things that do not matter. Our principals will do their best, but the spending cuts hurt. Please understand that this means your principal cannot provide everything she or he knows should be available for your children. The principals are doing the best they can.
 
There is no way to sugar-coat the rest of this news. If we are not able to win the political battles in Springfield, we will have to make more cuts. Those cuts will be even more painful. We need not just the $215 million first step that the Governor has stolen from your children. We need real change that is fair to your children.
 
We want to be clear: CPS cannot run the school system that your children deserve with the funds we have. Under the law, CPS has used all of its taxing power to bring in the most dollars we can. CPS also has borrowed billions of dollars to keep the schools open while the Governor and his political friends continue to cheat your children of their fair share of the state's education dollars.
 
The only solution will require a new approach – a fair approach – to fund education in Chicago.
 
There are many ideas about how Illinois can provide more money to do what we must for your children. We welcome all ideas, and we will work with everyone to find answers.
 
But while the Governor and his friends fight about how to solve the problem, they know that every day they cheat your children of their fair share, they can score political points with their own supporters. Just like President Trump.
 
And like President Trump, Governor Rauner is targeting our most vulnerable citizens: immigrant children, racial minorities, the poor.
 
Your children have made amazing progress learning at CPS. We are improving the quality of our teachers, developing better academic programs, and creating more opportunities for your children. But we also know that your children's wonderful progress is at risk. We cannot let your children down.
 
All of us at CPS believe that teaching children is the most important work we can do. We know that good schools can change your children's lives.
 
Please join with us in demanding that the Governor and his friends stop acting like President Trump. Please join us in demanding that your children receive their fair share of the money Illinois spends. Please join us in demanding that your children receive the quality education they deserve. Learn more at cps.edu/equality
 
Sincerely,
Forrest Claypool
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools