To: Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of the City of Chicago, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, and Chicago Board of Education
Save the Chicago Public Schools by Returning Them to the Public
We, as educators, students, parents, and people who care about the education and lives of the children of Chicago, cannot accept these budgetary cuts and closures and stand idly by while the board mortgages our children's education.
We have the following demands of the mayor, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and the Chicago Board of Education:
1. Immediately restore all proposed cuts to schools, and convene a committee of vocal parents from active and critical parent organizations, student organizations, and CPS educators from our bargaining organizations to rework the entire budget of CPS with a focus on student needs, not privatization and graft.
2. Cancel all contracts around the school closings, and impose a one-year moratorium while empowering the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force to develop a facilities plan in conjunction with communities that will provide all students with equitable learning environments in an efficient manner.
3. Work with parents, students, and educators to develop an interim structure for a board of education that is accountable to student needs. Cooperate with the state Legislature to form a committee to explore repealing mayoral control of CPS with the purpose of developing passable legislation to create a legal structure to restore community democratic control of the schools.
Once you have complied with these demands, we will all wholeheartedly thank you for finally doing what is right for the children of the city of Chicago.
Why is this important?
The people who have seized undemocratic control of Chicago Public Schools are destroying neighborhood public education and the lives and futures of Chicago's schoolchildren.
Over the last eight years, as a recipient of national, state, and district teaching awards, I have taught some of the highest-need students in our city. In the face of horrendous violence and a lack of school resources, we educators of Chicago have taken back our union and fight every day to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Chicago's young people.
But it is not only educators - parents, students, and community members have all joined this fight for educational equity and justice for all students. Together, we have changed lives.
But the mayoral-appointed Chicago Board of Education has undermined all of our efforts to improve our schools. On June 26, 2013, the Board will hold its June meeting, the first meeting since voting to close 50 schools mainly in Latino and African American neighborhoods and since informing school principals of 20% cuts to school-level funding. Many of the schools targeted for closure are relatively high-performing and have reasonable class sizes. The board is taking out a multi-decade loan to cover the additional costs of closing these schools.
The budget cuts come despite last year's surplus in the budget, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel continues to divert hundreds of millions of dollars in school money to private development projects.
These decisions ultimately will result in the destruction of the education of nearly 400,000 students in the city of Chicago. Individual young people will be killed in our streets as a result of the choices the board is making.