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Quick Hit
Thu Jun 27, 2013

Op-Ed: City Council Progressive Reform Caucus Speaks Out On CPS Budget Cuts

The Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus members released the following statement on Thursday in response to the news of massive cuts to Chicago Public School budgets across the city.

Even after all the supposed cost-savings arising from the closing of 50 public schools, Chicago Public Schools are now facing the most severe budget cuts in their history. While we still do not know the full extent of these cuts, at least 850 CPS employees will lose their jobs. Schools received their new budgets this month and found their budgets severely reduced.

As elected representatives of the communities of Chicago, we are alarmed by the stripping of basic necessities which define a school. The neighborhood schools have been reduced to beggars, lacking such essentials as sanitation supplies, library book funds, field trip money, playground supervision. The principals have been given the new budgets and told to ‘do more with less.’

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Jun 26, 2013

Emanuel Introduces Assault Weapons Ban, Student Safety Measure At Busy Council Meeting

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced an ordinance at Wednesday’s city council meeting that looks to ban the import, sale, transfer and possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in the city.

The move comes in response to the concealed carry legislation the Illinois General Assembly passed last month that is currently awaiting action from Gov. Pat Quinn.

State lawmakers are required to come up with new legislation by a July 9 deadline following a federal court ruling back in December that struck down Illinois’ concealed carry ban. The deadline was extended from June 9 to July 9 to give Gov. Quinn more time to consider the bill once it passed.

Under the proposed statewide concealed carry legislation, HB 183, sponsored by State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg), Illinois municipalities will have 10 days after the bill is signed to pass a new or updated assault weapons measure.

The Chicago Police Department is making a “strong effort” to bring down gun-related crimes and violence in the city in part by putting more police on the streets and getting “kids, guns and drugs” off of them, Emanuel said in remarks after the meeting.

“It is essential that we make sure we do everything to bring safety to all our communities and neighborhoods throughout the city,” Emanuel said. “The assault weapon ban, and making sure it’s comprehensive, is part of that overall strategy — bringing safety throughout our streets.”

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Wed Jun 26, 2013

CPS Blames Deficit On IL Pension Crisis As Protesters Blast Budget Cuts At Board Of Ed Meeting (VIDEO)

More than 200 protesters picketed outside the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) headquarters Wednesday morning, condemning massive school closings and “devastating” proposed budget cuts derived from the district’s new per-student budgeting system.

Meanwhile, during a Chicago Board of Education meeting later the same morning, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett cited Illinois’ “unsustainable” pension crisis as the “main driver” of the district’s $1 billion budget deficit.

Forty-eight school closures and more than 850 teacher layoffs were rolled out during the last two weeks of classes across the district, with the actions attributed to CPS' staggering budget shortfall.

“The deficit is real, and the challenges it presents to our district and our classrooms are real,” said Byrd-Bennett in her presentation before the Chicago Board of Education.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Jun 26, 2013

Illinois Citizens Ranked 16th In Overall Well-being, New National Data Shows

The overall well-being among Illinois residents has seen a slight improvement over the years, according to data from the American Human Development Index (HD Index) updated this month by Measure of America.

The HD Index factors in three issues Americans feel strongly about and also gauges human progress: health, education and income. The index tackles the question of how Americans are doing as opposed to how is the economy faring, which is something the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and other economic indicators seek to answer.

Illinois earned the 16th best HD Index score out of the 50 states, according to the “The Measure of America 2013-2014”. The report also includes an interactive map that lets users examine quality of life trends.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Tue Jun 25, 2013

CPS Parents Host Candlelight Vigil For Closing East Humboldt Park Schools (VIDEO)

“We’re here today mourning the death of our school,” said Magdalene Thurmond, a mother of two Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students who attended their last day of classes at Ana Roque de Duprey Elementary School on Monday.

As students filed out of the building for the last time, Thurmond was one of roughly 20 parents and staff members who gathered for a candlelight vigil outside of the closing school.