Two days before a massive payment is due for teacher pensions, Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool again likened Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to President Donald Trump, accusing both of taking from the poor to benefit the rich.
And then supporters of the threatened National Teachers Academy Elementary School, which CPS wants to convert into a high school for the growing, tony South Loop, accused Claypool of doing the same.
CPS officials still haven’t proposed a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that starts on Saturday, a day after they must pay the teacher pension balance of $721 million, partly funded by expensive short-term borrowing.
“I hope the governor would finally be part of the solution to fix the state funding system that is the worst in the country, and a pox on our state,” Claypool said at Wednesday’s meeting of the Chicago Board of Education.
“The Rauner-GOP proposal would single out one district in the state to receive less money – Chicago — and use the money that is taken from Chicago students to give to other wealthier districts in Illinois. It’s reverse Robin Hood education funding: Take from the poor, give to the rich. It’s eerily similar to Donald Trump’s ugly and mean-spirited move to give the wealthy a tax break while slashing health care benefits for those most in need.”
It’s hardly the first time Claypool has coupled the governor he’s been battling with the unpopular president.
Rauner spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis brushed off the Trump rhetoric, saying that “the governor supports legislation that would provide equitable funding for schools across our state. Unfortunately, the city of Chicago continues to push legislation that singles out its own school district at the expense of others.”
Community members for and against opening a new South Loop high school took their cases directly to board members.
Chinatown’s students, long promised a high school, have commuted elsewhere, resulting in a disconnect from their immigrant parents’ language and culture, said rising senior Derek Lau.
But families at NTA accused CPS of sacrificing their school that has CPS’ second highest rating and 80 percent poor and African-American students for the benefit of wealthier families moving into the South Loop.
“There are only 16 schools like NTA,” LSC chair Elisabeth Greer said. “We are akin to a unicorn within the system, as such we should be celebrated not destroyed.”