CHICAGO (January 13, 2018)–The Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus celebrated Friday’s news that Chicago Public Schools would hire 65 new special education positions, and the aldermen pledged to keep pushing for progress for restoring special education funding cuts.
CPS’ announcement of the hires came just one hour before an Education Committee hearing on special education funding cuts that the Progressive Caucus had been pushing for over the last several months. Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22) introduced the resolution calling for the hearing in November after a WBEZ investigative report exposed that CPS leadership had implemented secret plans to reduce programs and support for special needs students. The Education Committee had been scheduled to convene on the topic in December, but that hearing was then canceled.
“We are encouraged by CPS’ announcement that it will spend $2.5 million to hire 65 special education positions across the district, but troubled that CPS leadership only acted to make this happen after months of sustained pressure from aldermen and negative media coverage,” said Progressive Caucus Chair Ald. Scott Waguespack (32). “We are hopeful that new CEO Janice Jackson will help to restore our broken faith in CPS’ ability to make appropriate and morally just decisions about how to best serve our most vulnerable students.”
Waguespack noted that while the new hires are an important first step, they don’t come close to filling the gap left by massive cuts special education students have faced in recent years
Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza, who was a CPS educator for 22 years before being elected, said in a statement: “Education is my passion. No one knows as I do the disinvestment that the Board of Education has implemented over the past years. The students that need the most resources are being left behind. At CPS, my student-to-counselor ratio was 896 to one. Our diverse learning team consisted of one social worker, one day a week, an occupational therapist who was servicing 13 schools, and a special education teacher who was also the case manager. Simply put, our children were not getting their federally mandated needs met. Sadly this is not isolated to my school. This is happening in classrooms all across the city.”
“The scandal around special education funding is just another reminder that the mayoral-appointed board of education is not accountable to parents, students and communities,” said Ald. John Arena (45). “We must continue to fight for an elected, representative school board that will put the needs of our children first.”
Last week, Ald. Muñoz filed an official notice of the 11-member group’s intent to invoke Rule 41 of the City Council Rules of Order at the January 17 City Council meeting. That rule would have allowed them to force the Education Committee to convene a hearing and consider the resolution the Progressive Caucus introduced regarding the special education funding scandal. Instead, the hearing was finally scheduled, and Ald. Muñoz withdrew the Rule 41 notice.
The Progressive Reform Caucus of the Chicago City Council is dedicated to creating a more just and equal Chicago, combating all forms of discrimination, and advancing public policies that offer genuine opportunity to all Chicagoans, especially those who have been left out of our society’s prosperity. The Progressive Reform Caucus includes Ald. Sophia King (4) Ald. Leslie Hairston (5); Ald. Roderick T. Sawyer (6); Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10); Ald. Toni Foulkes (16); Ald. David Moore (17); Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22); Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29); Ald. Scott Waguespack (32); Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35); and Ald. John Arena (45).