CHICAGO – Chicago parents are sounding off after a partisan letter sent home with the district’s 381,000 students accused Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner of “cheating” students and stealing from kids.
The letter sent out Monday blames Rauner for Chicago Public Schools’ chronic budget problems that began long before his tenure, and likened the governor to President Donald Trump, accusing both of regular attacks on Chicago “to score political points.”
The letter centers on failed budget deals to steer $215 million to Chicago schools, and utilized taxpayer funds to frame the issue as an attack by Republican lawmakers, WGN reports.
“We are writing to let you know about two of the biggest cuts that Governor Rauner has forced us to make right now,” the letter read.
The letter explains that district officials instituted four furlough days for all CPS employees during times when students are not in class, as well as a freeze on $50 million in planned spending on schools, both of which CPS contends are critical to providing a quality education to students in the Windy City. The letter, of course, does not reference the role Democrats played in the city’s school spending crisis, or the massive impact a new teachers contract has on district finances.
“We want to be clear: CPS cannot run the school system that your children deserve with the funds we have. Under the law, CPS has used all of its taxing power to bring in the most dollars we can. CPS also has borrowed billions of dollars to keep the schools open while the Governor and his political friends continue to cheat your children of their fair share of the state’s education dollars,” the letter read.
“There are many ideas about how Illinois can provide more money to do what we must for your children. We welcome all ideas, and we will work with everyone to find answers,” it continued. “But while the Governor and his friends fight about how to solve the problem, they know that every day they cheat your children of their fair share, they can score political points with their own supporters. Just like President Trump.”
The letter, signed by CPS CEO Forrest Claypool, concludes with a call on parents to demand Rauner “stop acting like President Trump” and insist “your children receive the fair share of the money Illinois spends.”
Parents were not impressed with Claypool attempting to use their children as political pawns.
“This is so inappropriate,” a parent wrote in to WGN. “How can he send political propaganda home?”
“Invoking partisan politics – especially at the national level – is not the most effective way to build trust with parents and students,” added Sarah Brune, spokeswoman for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
Rauner’s administration, meanwhile, countered the district’s claims in a letter from Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis that was sent out to parents on Tuesday and puts CPS’ budget problems into proper perspective, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“Why would CPS arbitrarily create a crisis and hurt its students and teachers rather than work to pass the Senate’s balanced budget reform package?” Purvis wrote. “Rather than cutting services and creating a crisis to help justify a campaign to raise taxes in Springfield, it would be helpful to everyone if CPS would work with all parties to enact a balanced budget package that includes comprehensive pension reform and a new and equitable school funding formula.”