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Election Season: Lightfoot balancing City budget on backs of Chicago public school children

Mayor extracts $200 million this year alone from CPS to cover Lightfoot budget hole, while school communities across city saw budgets slashed for a third year under Lightfoot.

CHICAGO, October 3, 2022 — The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement in response to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s release of her proposed 2023 budget:

Chicago candidate Lori Lightfoot made sweeping progressive promises to voters that Lightfoot as mayor has routinely broken – including broken promises to parents, families and educators for real equity in public education.

“We should never settle for dividing up a shrinking pie, or pitting one part of this city against another,” said Lightfoot just after being elected mayor in 2019, when she promised to partner with Chicagoans – including our young people – to build a truly equitable city.

Instead, in the intervening three years, we’ve seen budget cuts, broken promises, and squandered potential – all at the expense of our students, families and school communities.

This year alone, the mayor shook down her hand-picked school board for $200 million to plug her budget hole – largely to cover municipal pension costs that this mayor and those who preceded her had shortchanged for years.

Despite receiving almost $3 billion in federal COVID relief, she again cut school budgets across the city, even as school communities struggled to access the resources and supports them desperately need.

She parked a billion dollars in the CPS ‘rainy day’ fund to appear big finance – even as schools are facing a tsunami of budget shortfalls and acute needs driven by both the consequences of the pandemic and years of civic neglect.

As a candidate, she promised to an elected representative school board. Instead, once elected, she fought to undermine state legislation allowing Chicagoans for the first time in history to elect their school board members.

As a candidate, she promised a nurse, a social worker and a librarian for every school. Yet as mayor, Lightfoot fought to derail enforceable contractual commitments to actually hire more nurses and social workers.

And today, while Lightfoot takes political aim at the Republican agenda of disinformation and austerity, she has left our schools with FEWER librarians – less than a hundred – then when she took office, even as the need to support students’ critical thinking skills in this age of rampant disinformation has become more vital than ever.

This mayor has left even our most vulnerable students – special education students – in the lurch, as hundreds continue to confront either extremely long and burdensome travel to their school communities or no reliable transportation at all.

This mayor has repeatedly promised the moon and delivered nothing. When someone shows and tells you who they are, believe them.

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Check out “The Schools Chicago Students Deserve 3.0”, bringing our groundbreaking 2012 CTU report into the 21st century, with a focus on COVID-19 pandemic recovery and real equity for hundreds of thousands of neglected Black and Latinx families and school communities.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest local teacher in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctulocal1.org.

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