Having closed 11 percent of the city’s public schools in May, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has now been forced to fire 2,000 employees, including 1,000 teachers—half of whom were tenured. The Chicago Tribune reports:
“We’re not going to be able to cut our way out of this crisis,” [CPS Spokeswoman Becky] Carroll said. “Our revenues are simply not keeping in line with our spending increases.” […]
The district again blamed the lack of pension reform for many of its fiscal woes, noting that pension payments are growing this fiscal year by an additional $400 million.
The Chicago Teachers Union president blamed the school district’s duplicity for the layoffs:
“Once again, CPS has lied to parents, employees and the public about keeping the new school-based budget cuts away from the classroom,” [Karen] Lewis said.
It’s an interesting web the union has spun for itself: its power to negotiate lavish pensions for teachers has helped bankrupt the city, which is now forced to sack teachers. And with Chicago’s budget deficit at $1 billion and revenue declining, there’s no end in sight, and no tenure and no pension is safe. How teachers react to the declining ability of unions to secure their interests in one of America’s great blue cities will tell us a lot about the blue model’s current bill of health.
The immediate impact on children and families of Chicago’s fiscal failure is obvious enough, but the long-term impact is perhaps even more grim. The city’s budget cuts, harrowing crime rate, and broken politics are forcing people out: Chicago’s population has declined to numbers not seen since before the 1920s, with the black population falling by almost a fifth in the past decade alone.
This trend means even less revenue for the city, even fewer children to fill the classrooms, and even more talent and potential lost. Chicago is failing its poor, and hope for improvement is in short supply.
[Image of Chicago teachers strike courtesy of Shutterstock]