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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Apr 10

Education Activists Call CPS Per-Student Funding Increase 'A Wash'; Fight Against Turnarounds Continues

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district announced Wednesday that it will increase funding for school budgets next year by $70 million. But education experts and activists stopped short of calling it a big boost for schools.

"It's really not an increase. It's less of a decrease," said Eric 'Rico' Gutstein, faculty associate with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education.

CPS plans to reduce central office spending and use a one-time accounting adjustment so it can allocate the extra $70 million, which will be used to increase its base per-student funding amount by $250.

It looks like a good chunk of the extra per-pupil funds sent to schools would help to offset inflation and contractually-required pay bumps for teachers, CPS spokesman Joel Hood told the Chicago Sun-Times. Next year, the Chicago Teachers Union is owed a 2 percent teacher pay hike, which will reportedly come out to be no less than $50 million.

West Side education activist Dwayne Truss with the Raise Your Hand education coalition called the per-student funding increase "just a wash."

"You're not gaining much from last year other than being able to just hold on to what you already have," he said.  Read more »

PI Original
by Anthony Burke Boylan
Thu Apr 10

Chicago City Council's Progressive Reform Coalition Raising Funds To Be 'More Active & Efficient'

The Progressive Reform Coalition will have something of a coming out party Thursday night with a fundraiser designed to introduce itself to the public and raise money to be a more active and more efficient force in city politics. Progress Illinois takes a look at what the caucus is hoping to accomplish with the additional funds.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Apr 9

Education Activists Take Fight Against Turnarounds To Home Of Board Of Ed President

About 60 education activists and members of Action Now demonstrated outside of Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale's home Tuesday evening in protest of plans to shake up the staff at three elementary schools next year. Progress Illinois was there for the protest.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Tue Apr 8

Gresham Elementary Principal, Supporters Denounce CPS Turnaround Plan (VIDEO)

The principal of a South Side elementary school is pushing back against the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) turnaround proposal, alleging officials are more concerned about money than students’ best interests.

“It is not about declining enrollment and the capability of the administration or the teachers, it is not about that. This proposed (turnaround) is about money and what was spent on this building. They want this building,” said Diedrus Brown, principal of Walter Q. Gresham Elementary School, located at 8524 S. Green St. in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.

With support from the Chicago Teachers Union, parents and community activists, Brown criticized CPS’ plan to have the controversial school turnaround contractor Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) overhaul the entire staff at the elementary school next year. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Apr 3

Dvorak Elementary Supporters Furious About CPS Turnaround Plan

A passionate crowd begged the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district at a community meeting Wednesday night to spare Dvorak Technology Academy from having its entire staff fired and replaced next school year.

The district wants the controversial school turnaround contractor Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) to manage Dvorak, located in Chicago's North Lawndale community, due to the elementary school's less than stellar academic performance.

"If our school is turned around, my concern is that our students who have challenges and issues will be turned away only to end up on the streets of our community," said Tracie Worthy, a member of the North Lawndale Community Action Council who previously served on Dvorak's Local School Council (LSC). "I'm asking that CPS provide the necessary support for Dvorak to stay open as a community school to serve our students ... What we need now are resources and support from CPS to make a difference for our school." Read more »

Quick Hit
Wed Mar 19

Guest Post: Lessons Learned In Primary 2014

The following guest post is from Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

Incumbents seeking to erode retirement security in Chicago had better beware

Throughout this primary season, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has been a strong and vocal advocate for voters on the South and West Sides of Chicago—many of whom have been most impacted by the foolishness of education deformers and pension thieves. It is time to stand up to the predatory corporate and political interests that seek to threaten the economic security of thousands of workers. Incumbents seeking to steal our retirement security, beware.

The Chicago Teachers Union expressed people power this electoral cycle. We were most successful in creating a platform of educational justice and retirement security that was expressed by our endorsed candidates.  Representative-elect Will Guzzardi amplified our calls for an elected, representative school board, a moratorium on school closings and an end to charter proliferation.

With our continued support and his ability to turn the issues we’ve long championed into a successful political campaign, he was able to take down the Berrios machine and strike a blow to the top-down political tradition of the Northwest Side.

While the 26th District race remains contested, it is clear that voters on the South Side have soundly rejected State Rep. Christian “Crown” Mitchell’s anti-working families’ platform. This contest, more than any other this Primary season, exposes the racial and economic fault lines for 2015. Read more »

PI Original
by Bob Skolnik
Wed Mar 19

Boykin Wins Crowded Democratic Race For Cook County Board's 1st District Seat

Fueled by more than $100,000 of his own money and the backing of Congressman Danny Davis (D-Chicago), Richard Boykin won the hotly contested race for the Cook County Board's Democratic nomination in the 1st District.  We provide a closer look at the race and Boykin's victory.