* From the Chicago Teachers Union…
The CTU is also condemning a legislative deal that Emanuel has embraced—and the Board of Education has done nothing to oppose—which opens the door to school vouchers, a move that is expected to put roughly $75 million in public dollars into the coffers of private schools and provide hefty tax breaks for the wealthy. The union argues that the voucher “compromise” in SB1—modeled on the extremist privatization policies of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos—is tantamount to planting a ticking time bomb on a bus and driving through school districts throughout the state, creating even greater debt and fiscal distress.
“The mayor’s failure to responsibly budget for our schools has set the stage for him to cut a deal with the governor to implement some kind of state-run ‘school finance authority’,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. “This allows him to wash his hands of our schools while avoiding taxing his wealthy friends—many of whom are among his biggest campaign donors.”
“This false choice of a voucher ‘compromise’ for SB1, without public debate, will undermine the core promise of quality public education for all students—low income students, in particular—and give more hefty tax breaks to the rich, Sharkey added. “Legislators should reject this scheme and vote for a straight override of the governor’s veto of SB1.”
* Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago)…
This scheme is a major legislative priority of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council, an ultra-conservative legislative think tank) and US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. In some cases, like Georgia, it allows donors to profit from their “donations” by getting multiple tax breaks at the state and federal levels.
We must pass a school funding reform bill to ensure that schools statewide receive the money they need to successfully educate our children. I can’t, however, compromise on my long-held opposition to vouchers and other mechanisms to strip support from our neighborhood schools.
I want a clean school-funding bill, one that doesn’t compromise the well-being of the students in the most vulnerable schools that have seen the greatest cuts at both the local and state level. And once again, they are being used as hostages. We are being asked to rubber stamp this last-minute, unreviewed scheme because it is those students at the highest need schools that require state aid the soonest.
OK, first of all, ALEC is also heavily involved in criminal justice reform, so not everything they do is horrific to liberals. And this plan isn’t like Georgia’s in that it doesn’t allow for a federal tax break.
Second, these aren’t vouchers. And they’re not stripping support from anybody. The tax credits are being paid out of GRF. Now, I have no idea where they’re going to find the money, but the school budget is already set in stone. Also, the hold-harmless provision in the new bill is not based on per pupil, so schools that lose students to private schools won’t be penalized.
And, finally, what happens when SB1 isn’t overridden? Do we all just wait for yet another meltdown crisis? And does the CTU or any of the Chicago legislators opposing this deal really believe that Chicago will get the same deal that it’s getting now if the CTU and Chicago legislators manage to kill this deal over a $75 million pilot project?
…Adding… The deal doesn’t just magically get better for CPS if Chicagoans kill it. Also, lots of liberals applauded Republicans last month for swallowing hard and voting for a tax hike and a budget that would almost assuredly cause them electoral grief…