Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Blame Game: CPS edition

In a sparsely attended Chicago Public Schools budget hearing tonight at Malcolm X College, about twenty speakers addressed funding questions to BOE VP Jesse Ruiz and CPS chiefs Ginger Ostro and Dr. Markay Winston. Assorted other CPS bureaucrats shared the stage, but they did nothing but nod or smile when appropriate. Tonight's theme: blame Springfield! Lack of pension parity? Springfield. Cuts to Special Education? Springfield. Decreased funding for CPS? Springfield.

Bruce Rauner likely doesn't know or care that all fingers are pointing at him as he had a grand old time at the Illinois State Fair today. To prove he has the biggest stones (and checkbook) of anyone, he purchased a prize steer at auction for $61,000. Then, he moseyed over to the dairy barn to get himself a raspberry milkshake! It sure must be hard work trying to bust unions and implode public education, but you'd never know it from his insipid grin.

Something else Bruce Rauner doesn't know or care about: the families who are already bracing for the impact of CPS budget cuts. In particular, families who send their kids to Jackie Vaughn Occupational High School were vocal about the loss of 23 paraprofessionals and 5 teachers at this school which serves the needs of 208 students with cognitive and developmental disabilities. While $61,000 is a drop in the bucket for Rauner, students who attend Vaughn will be hard-pressed to earn this much in the workforce. A 2014 article notes that only 11% of people with a cognitive disability work full-time, while 33% live in poverty.

Some of the more pointed remarks Vaughn parents directed to the coterie of assembled CPS brass:
  • Do any of you have a child with disabilities?
  • How would you feel if you had a blind child going down stairs at school without an aide?
  • Have you visited Vaughn? You'd be pleased and proud.
  • I'm pleading to your humanity to stop cutting to the bone, we're the bone.
  • I want my child to be able to fill out a job application and be productive.
One woman, a 33 year old single mother, spoke with a trembling voice and begged to have some positions restored at the school. Her son, she said, is 16 years old with Cerebral Palsy and she equated the slated cuts to limiting her son's life.  After this, all Dr. Winston could guarantee was that one position at Vaughn has been restored.

Tomorrow will likely bring another round of dire warnings, finger-pointing, and tough talk. Meanwhile, Bruce Rauner will continue living out his State Fair dreams as parents and students appear to be the unfortunate losers in this blame game.

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