Board of Education decisions defy common sense and logic

January 25, 2014

Text of my testimony at the  January 22, 2014, meeting of the Chicago Board of Education regarding the expansion of charters by CPS after the recent Board of Education/Mayor Emanuel decisions closing of 50+ schools and massive cut to the budgets of our neighborhood schools across the City of Chicago. 32nd Ward elementary schools lost over $1.7 million after Mayor Emanuel directed CPS to cut neighborhood school funding.

Dear Board members:

I am standing here today in support of many community members, 32nd Ward residents, CPS parents, community organizations and fellow aldermen asking for you to delay your decision today to expand charter schools in the CPS system.

The year 2013 was traumatic for many of our CPS students and parents as we watched the Mayor and the Board move forward on over 50 public school closures designed to save millions of dollars and allow for more funding to be spent on our other neighborhood schools. As if that faulty decision was not enough, you decided to drastically cut the budgets of many of our neighborhood schools, even high performing schools in the 32nd Ward that have been financially supported by many of our own CPS parents to the tune of millions of dollars over the past few years.

You will hear testimony throughout the day about the disastrous cuts you have made to neighborhood schools while moving forward on a charter expansion that defies common sense and logic. In the eyes of many of my parents, you are further damaging CPS and the support that many parents have given to their schools over the years.

Along with my fellow Aldermen, I encourage you to delay your decision today, undertake a real study of academic performance of charters, evaluate them together with a real master facilities plan, go back and review the charter financial practices, especially those that have refused to be accountable to any democratically elected body much less the community, and finally, evaluate your decision in light of the past couple years of decisions that have hurt the CPS system unlike anytime in the past.

What will the next generation of students and parents think about your decisions over the past couple years and today? How will they view you in the timeline of history?

This week I heard many great comments and speeches about the life, thoughts, and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I don’t believe we have lived up to his vision and have instead turned our back on it.

One MLK quote shared recently by our County Board President struck me as most relevant to today: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Remember that as you decide today to move forward on your decision. Thank you.