The madness gripping the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago got even crazier on April 1, when Chicago public school teachers walked off the job for one day to protest the stalled negotiations for a new contract and the continuing impasse in Springfield that has prevented the state from operating with a budget since July 1 of last year.
The district has already said that CTU members who don’t show up for work won’t be paid, and that schools will be open for teachers who do want to cross picket lines.
“We welcome teachers who want to work,” district Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson said Thursday.
“I also understand this is a hard decision for many of our teachers, and I have a message to those teachers as well: If teachers are not able to come to work, we will not seek mass discipline against the rank-and-file teachers,” Jackson said.
In addition to early morning pickets at schools, CTU and allied groups are planning a full day of teach-ins and rallies at sites around the city prior to what’s expected to be a massive rally in the Loop during the evening rush hour.
Jackson said Friday is “not a student attendance day,” meaning children won’t be penalized for not coming to school. Some 40 athletic competitions scheduled for Friday are canceled, Jackson said, though contests scheduled for Saturday and Sunday will continue as planned.
More than 100 Chicago schools — along with Park District buildings and city libraries — will be open to students shut out of the classroom. Roughly 750 of the district’s bureaucrats will be sent to district-operated contingency sites, Jackson said.
The district encouraged parents interested in using one of the sites to register online in advance, though CPS said that is not required and that no students will be turned away. More information for parents is available at www.cps.edu/april1.
“We believe that most parents probably will exercise other options,” Claypool said. “All we can do is have these options available and to make them as convenient as possible and make sure the plan is as robust as possible.”
The district is running a billion-dollar deficit and wants the state to give the schools that money so teacher salaries can be increased. But the money simply isn’t there. The state is running a $9 billion deficit and is sitting on a pension bomb with nearly $160 billion in IOUs. Democrats, who control the legislature, believe they can continue with business as usual. They and their allies in the courts have blocked several reforms by Governor Rauner and offered a ridiculous alternative that doesn’t even come close to balancing the budget.
Democrats in Springfield and Chicago may be pinning their hopes to the idea of a federal bailout. But that’s not going to happen unless drastic pension and civil service reforms take place. The long and short of it is that most politicians in the state from both parties are unwilling to face the music. With Illinois already one of highest-tax states in the country, citizens and businesses are fleeing the madness while the special interests line their pockets.
The governor is trying to be responsible, but his proposed cuts have proven to be wildly unpopular with the people. The state seems gripped by a mental disease that causes its victims to refuse to see reality and face facts.
It can only end very, very badly.