REV. JESSE JACKSON URGES CPS AND CTU TO CHOOSE RECONCILIATION OVER CONFRONTATION
Chicago, IL (September 10, 2012) — Our nation’s public schools are in an escalated state of crisis. Late last night, this crisis led to a strike by the Chicago Teacher’s Union, making apparent the urgency of immediate action. Weurge the Governor, the state Labor organizations, the state legislative leaders and leaders in the civic and faith community to join us in urging both sides to come to a resolution that is in the best interest of Chicago’s children.
We realize that there a number of issues that remain unresolved, including the implementation of the state mandated Performance Reform Evaluation Act passed in 2011, and standards for student and teacher evaluation. The State of Illinois has a role in these negotiations and should therefore have a representative in the room.
Many other school districts in Illinois—Elgin, East St. Louis, and Thornton Township District 205—are facing a teacher strikes, school closings, and school turnarounds. In these districts, disagreements between teachers and the school system have highlighted discussions about class size, job security, length of the school day, teacher evaluations, and resource allocation. Many tense conversations are taking place in school districts where the majority of students are from poor and minority backgrounds. The issues on the table result from several decades of inadequate school funding, especially in districts that serve the urban poor. The obvious disparities in funding and resource allocation between urban schools and those wealthy suburban districts are widening. Nequa Valley and Naperville are father than ever before from schools like Peyton and Whitney Young. Students attending low performing schools in Chicago are still tested at the same level with schools in high performing highly resourced districts. The impact of structural inequality, violence, and poverty must be addressed in these negotiations.
The Chicago Public School System, like other School Systems in the state, may face financial crisis. Chicago school districts contain a significant majority of schools failing to make adequate yearly progress on the standardized tests used to measure student achievement. Not coincidentally, schools facing these challenges fit a standard profile:
1. The majority of the student body qualifies for free and reduced lunch
2. Approximately 13% of the student population is designated as “special education,” further straining already limited social worker and counseling services
3. The school is located in or near a high crime community
4. The majority of students have a high truancy rate
5. The funding formula for the school district is based on property taxes in areas with high concentrations of unemployment
The issues facing public schools in the US are vast, and result from decades of neglect and inadequate funding. Current funding disparities in the state of Illinois violate the original intent of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. In 1954, the court wrote, “…the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” The inherent inequality of public school funding in our state and across the country continues to effectively separate students by race and class, ignoring the well-known psychological impact of such discrimination.
We are calling on all parties to stand for equality and justice so that all children in the state of Illinois can receive an equal high quality public education.
Rev. Janette Wilson
Executive Director, PUSH Excel