In 2002, I characterized then Mayor Daley’s Educational policy initiative, entitled Renaissance 2010, as a diabolical initiative designed to weaken the foundation of Public Education and facilitate the privatization of schools. In 2007, I warned Ren 2010 would result in the closure of schools. In 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 Chicago Public Schools. It now costs CPS $1.8 million annually to maintain boarded-up school buildings.

Under the direction of the current mayor, Chicago Public Schools have engaged in the cleansing of Socially and Attitudinally challenged at risk students. School closings, expulsions and other measures have resulted in the elimination of underperforming students. Thus, upon closer examination, the perceived improvements in graduation rates is a fiction without merit.

Education Situation:  CPS currently has 681 schools including 472 elementary schools, 106 high schools, 96 charter schools, and 7 contract schools. Unlike most school systems, CPS is headed by a chief executive officer rather than a superintendent.

Elected School Board: Members of the Board of Education should be elected by the public. We should establish eight single member districts with a president to be elected at large. The legislation must include safeguards to avoid the hijacking of the election by powerful, well funded organizations, PACS, unions and other special interest groups. The enabling legislation must be carefully drafted to include strict campaign financing and spending limits, and thereby ensure that ordinary and average individuals have an equal opportunity to win election.

Longer School Day: I would not support a measure that would make a longer school day mandatory. Instead, I would support an initiative which would provide the option for students to benefit from a longer school day based upon their individual desire, capacity and family circumstances.

Charter Schools: The number of Charter schools should be frozen at the current level.

Budget Deficit: CPS has an actual budget deficit of nearly $1 billion.

Operational Efficiency: To help close the CPS budget gap, we will decrease the operational costs through the   installation of devices which efficiently regulate and control building temperature and lighting; through better administration of contract awards; and by significantly increasing the number of CPS contractors bidding to provide goods, services and materials.

2015 CPS Budget:  The Chicago Board of Education approved a $5.76 billion fiscal 2015 operating budget that extends the district’s revenue recognition period by 60 days – an accounting maneuver to bulk up available reserves and eliminate a nearly $1 billion deficit. CPS said in a statement”This is a one-time fix that allows the district to prevent further cuts to school budgets in the absence of increased state funding or comprehensive pension reform from (the Illinois Legislature),”

CPS Enrollment: For the first time in recent history, Chicago Public Schools enrollment has dropped below 400,000 students. In 2003, CPS enrollment exceeded 438,000. Students attend a particular school based on their area of residence except for charter schools and selective enrollment schools.

Graduation Rate: The school system reported a graduation rate of 65.4 percent for the 2012-2013 school year. That graduation rate is misleading because many at risk youth, who are still eligible for enrollment in CPS, have previously dropped out or been expelled from CPS. Those potential students have been purged from the records and are no longer reflected in the CPS accounting process.

Education Funding: There are 102  Illinois counties. Of them, 101 fund education with a proper mix of Property taxes and State Income Taxes. Unlike the other counties, Cook County relies primarily upon Property taxes to fund education. In fact, over 50% of Cook County property taxes goes to fund education.

Funding Solution: As Mayor of Chicago, central to my downstate legislative agenda will be a change in the Funding formula for schools in Chicago and Cook County.

Walls For Mayor Educational Goal: To provide a superior public or charter school education for each and every individual child.

Walls For Mayor Objective: To reverse the ill effects of Rahm Emanuel’s failed educational policies, and eradicate the obsolete “one size fits all” educational concept.

Walls For Mayor Policy Initiative: Mandate “Educational Intensive Care.” We must implement policies, practices and procedures designed to ensure Chicago students have at least an 80% chance of completing their education, Pre-K through 12th grade.

Walls For Mayor Methodology: Bring everyone together, including the Board of Education, Public and Charter School Administrators, Principals, Teachers, Chicago Teacher’s Union, Local Elected School Council, Educational Community Activists, Parents, Students, Business and Community Partners.

Chicago Alternative Learning Opportunities: Chicago Alternative Learning Opportunities Programs (ALOP) are open to students between the ages of 17 and 21 who have left the school system and wish to re-enroll. We would use select CPS properties, from the inventory of school buildings previously closed by Rahm Emanuel, to provide a combination of alternative educational opportunities, Skill training and development, Mental Health Services and general city services.

Chicago Teachers Pension Fund: CPS teachers do not contribute to Social Security and therefore, rely on their pensions for financial security in retirement. Established by the Illinois state legislature in 1895, the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund manages members’ assets and administers benefits. The $9.7 billion pension fund serves approximately 63,000 active and retired educators, and provides pension and health insurance benefits to more than 27,000 beneficiaries.

Pension Contribution: The district’s pension contribution for the new fiscal year that began July 1 is $634 million, which is 11 percent of the CPS operating budget. This CPS pension commitment is equivalent to $1,600 per student. In fiscal year 2014, the state of Illinois allocated $11.9 million for Chicago Teachers Pension Fund.

Pension Funding: The stated goal is to be 90 percent funded by 2059. Absent pension relief from Springfield, a portion of the property tax levy may have to be redirected to the pension fund. Another option may be to return Tax Increment Financing surpluses to CPS.

Teachers’ Retirement System: In fiscal year 2014, the state of Illinois allocated $3.5 billion to fund the Teachers’ Retirement System

Issues and Concerns:

Teacher Retention; Title I funds often go unused and are returned to the Federal government due to low enrollment in tutoring and other prescribed programs; The state pays the employer cost for pensions for all non-Chicago teachers and should consider doing the same for Chicago.

School Closures: Rahm Emanuel closed 50 Chicago Public Schools. Emanuel claimed they were both under-performing and underutilized. They now exist as dangerous, boarded-up, eyesores. Ninety percent of the 30,000 students impacted by the closures were African American. According to the the most recent census, Chicago’s black population dropped 17 percent as those former residents relocated to the suburbs and elsewhere.

Resolution: As mayor, consistent with my commitment to decentralize city government, I will reopen the 50 schools Rahm recklessly closed. Those buildings will be “education first facilities” with a “mixed use” component. Those sound structures will be refurbished and restored to their primary use as neighborhood schools. However, to make this economically feasible, and reduce the burden on taxpayers, we will modify each building to also accommodate, a Police Sub Station; A Regional or Local CPS office; A WIC office; A Neighborhood DHS office, and a student therapy facility. Given the proper design, these several essential community service providers can safely and efficiently co-exist in the same structure.