On Jan. 20, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, along with Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno and Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, proposed a state takeover plan for Chicago Public Schools, according to a Jan. 20 Chicago Sun-Times article.
The proposed takeover plan includes replacing the current mayor-appointed school board, weakening the Chicago Teachers Union’s bargaining power and allowing CPS to file for bankruptcy, according to a Jan. 20 Chicago Tribune article.
CPS is struggling—especially with budget issues—but Rauner’s proposal is not the help the district needs.
Replacing the mayor-appointed board with another government-appointed one is not going to help the district overcome their problems. As the CTU and parents contend, people who serve on the board should be elected, not chosen by outside government officials who have no personal stake in CPS.
Additionally, weakening CTU’s bargaining power would decrease the quality of teachers CPS can attract. Collective bargaining gives teachers an opportunity to improve and renegotiate their salaries, benefits and conditions.
Years of deficit spending have left the district with $6.2 billion in outstanding debt and an operating budget of about $5.7 billion, according to a Jan. 21 WBEZ article. Although CPS has financial issues, being able to file for bankruptcy, as Rauner’s plan would permit, does not guarantee CPS would be successful in restructuring its debt. CPS needs more funding from the state, not a takeover or the opportunity to file for bankruptcy.
Rauner’s plan takes the focus off students’ well-being and education and puts it on profits and politics. CPS’ main goal should be to provide quality education for students.
Rauner’s plan reveals he is thinking of CPS as a company. If CPS is run like this, the needs of students are more likely to be disregarded in the interest of saving money.
City officials, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and state Democrats, have opposed the proposal and said it will not pass, according to a Jan. 21 WBEZ article. Without their support it is indeed highly unlikely the proposal will go through. But if it did, it would be detrimental to the future of CPS and Chicago’s children.