The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chicago:
Catastrophic Cuts Proposed for Schools

Jun 28, 2010

The Chicago Board of Education just gave Ron Huberman, head of schools, authorization to layoff 2,700 teachers and allow 35 children in a classroom. Today the average is 28, already too high.

Which teacher can follow closely the problems and the progress of 35 students in one classroom? No one.

These layoffs will mean even less education for public school students in Chicago. And they will hit the poorest students, who need individual attention from their teachers, the hardest. Already 43% of Chicago high school students do not graduate. How many more will drop out after these cuts?

Huberman says these cuts are meant to plug a “427 million dollar deficit.” But Chicago is a rich city. Out of the property tax levied for the schools, 247 million dollars a year goes to Mayor Daley’s TIF funds, which he gives away to business. And the Board of Education spends tens of millions of dollars on consultants – the exact amount carefully hidden from public view.

Who makes these decisions? Are they people with years of teaching or studying education? Nope! Mayor Daley appointed the seven members of the Board, which includes two lawyers from some of the biggest corporate law firms in the country, two bankers and a mutual fund operator, a business consultant and one doctor. Not one ordinary parent or teacher. Not one educator.

The teachers, fed up with their current union leadership, just overwhelmingly voted in new officers, who had organized the fight against school closings and charter schools. They called for a protest at the end of May that turned out more than 4,000 people.

More and more protests by parents, students, and teachers have been taking place in front of schools, at neighborhood meetings by the Board, and downtown at City Hall and at the Board. They’re right to raise their voices. Workers’ children deserve a decent education – something these lawyers and businessmen know nothing about.