Taxpayer Funded Rally in Springfield
I attended the “I want more money rally”> in Springfield Wednesday held by the IEA, CARE, A+ Illinois. There were several thousand participants, with many of them kids. (See pictures below)
Arne Duncan, Superintendent of CPS stated that nearly 5000 students were present as I mentioned in the brief post a couple of days ago. I was mistaken though. All of these students were not from CPS. A high school band, not from CPS, led the parade.
There were many teachers present. Most of them had IEA T-shirts, while about 40 or so had a T-Shirt that said “Dedicated” on the front and “Working without a contract District 205″ on the back (Picture below). How may substitute teachers did the taxpayers pay for on Wednesday?
I emailed Arne Duncan to ask a few questions (below). I would have spoken to him at the rally, but I was more interested in getting information to reporters, although it appears from the articles my efforts were wasted.
- How many students attended the rally from CPS?
- How many buses were used to transport these kids?
- Was this considered a field trip for those attending students?
- How many CPS teachers and staff members attended the rally?
- How many substitute teachers were hired to cover for the teachers who attended?
- I have asked the following question to many other teachers and superintendents.
What dollar amount will it take to adequately fund a students education each year? I know there is a different number for elementary and high school.
I received an answer from Peter Cunningham from the Office of the CEO.
On behalf of Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan, I will try to answer your questions.
Approximately 2000 students attended the rally Ã¢â‚¬â€œ juniors and seniors who were studying government and civics Ã¢â‚¬â€œ from 50 different Chicago public high schools. We integrated the trip into the curriculum and spent the week before the trip working with the students to learn about state funding issues.
Over 100 buses transported students to Springfield.
This was a field trip. It also counted toward the students’ community service requirements.
Approximately one staff member Ã¢â‚¬â€œ teacher or volunteer Ã¢â‚¬â€œ for every 10 students attended the rally.
I don’t have the substitute numbers.
According to the state-appointed Education Funding Advisory Board =– a quality education costs about $6400 last year and about $6600 this year. High schools tends to cost a little more but EFAB does not make a distinction. CPS would argue that it really costs a lot more Ã¢â‚¬â€œ which is why private schools charge up to $20,000 per year in tuition and wealthy suburban school districts spend a similar amount per student each year. If CPS had more money we would expand a range of enrichment programs, lower class sizes in targeted schools at targeted grades and we would increase the length of the school day Ã¢â‚¬â€œ as well as invest in capital improvements so that Chicago schools have comparable facilities to the best schools across Illinois. If we get funding reform, these are some of the ways we plan to invest the money.
I hope this is helpful. If there is anything else you need please contact me directly.
This email shows multiple issues with the rally. Let me highlight a few:
- Students were used as political pawns
- Students were indoctrinated instead of being educated
- The taxpayers spent thousands of dollars on teachers, principals, security officers, etc in busing 2000 students to Springfield in 100 buses
- The taxpayers spent thousands more for substitutes to replace the staff being paid to attend the rally
- CPS schools want to receive and spend $20,000 per year per child
It would be interesting to see the lesson plans on how CPS and other schools taught/teach kids about funding inequity. Are they showing them how school funding increased 157% since 1987 while student population increased 13% while Inflation was only 57%?
Did they have a taxpayer watchdog group speak to the students about the spending issues? My guess is this was a one sided conversation complete with only the data they wanted the students to see. If anyone is willing, a FOIA of these lesson plans would be in order.
I will direct you to a few of the online newspaper stories and then share a little more about the day. The first is from the State Journal-Register. This story has a link to actual video of the event on its site.
Under the existing funding system, schools rely heavily on property taxes. That results in inequities because some school districts are more property-rich than others, meaning they have more money to spend on educating students.
“We’re not here today to talk about any specific plan,” Swanson said at a rally in front of the Abraham Lincoln statue on the Statehouse grounds. “We are here to simply say: ‘You’re the experts. Figure it out. Fix it. And make it a fix that will sustain for the long term.’”
Among the proposals to improve school funding are Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s gross-receipts tax plan, which would boost the taxes that some businesses pay to the state, and a so-called “tax swap” plan that would increase state income taxes and lower property taxes.
The second story is from the Pantagraph:
When thousands of people rallied at the Statehouse to demand more education funding, emcee William McNary of Citizen Action made sure to stress that they were “not going to foreclose on any” funding option on the table.
The Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Hospital Association support the Blagojevich plan but say they also could support 750. They’re concentrating right now on Blagojevich’s plan because it seems more viable right now, largely because he promises to veto any alternative.
“We strongly support the governor’s plan but our complete commitment is not to the gross receipts tax. It is to resolving the problem,” said Charlie McBarron, spokesman for the Education Association. “That should be what everybody’s commitment is to.”
Thousands of schoolteachers marched in the streets of Springfield on Wednesday in support of increasing funding for Illinois public schools this year.
The question this year is not if we will have a tax increase, but rather what tax to increase and by how much.
Not long after the teachers chanted and marched down Second Street to the Capitol, Speaker Michael Madigan told a business group a tax hike is needed, but added that business concerns about Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s gross-receipts tax are “valid.”
“I said that I think we’re going to need a tax increase, and that’s as far as I’m going to go,” Madigan said after addressing the business group.
We hope it will be an open process. And we hope it will take into account more than chant-ing teachers. Maybe it is time to raise really tough questions, such as why spending more than $20 billion a year on education in Illinois is not enough. Let’s seriously ponder and answer that question before deciding how to tax people for billions more. Can we approach education-funding equity and improve health-care access without bankrupting the populace?
Why is $20 billion not enough for our schools? Why are they always seeking more money? It’s obvious, if they can shift the debate to money, then they always have a ready made excuse for kids under performing. Money becomes the issue instead of quality. They now have cover for their failure to do their job and they get to have higher salaries while continuing to fail.
I attempted to get to reporters at the event. I spoke with 4 different reporters and shared with them the information I have on Fund The Child. The first reporter was with talk radio. She seemed attentive enough, but as I walked away my wife said she was shaking her head in disbelief at the information.
There were several camera crews filming as well. It was interesting in that nearly half of them had on hats provided by the IEA and their Invest in Excellence campaign. I hope they took them for the free hat, but it sure hurt their credibility as being impartial.
At the end of the rally I was able to catch 3 more reporters. Two of the three were totally disinterested. The last reporter I spoke to was pleasant and seemed interested. They even agreed that money was not going to solve the problem and that the schools had more issues than funding.
I had appointments to meet with both my State Senator Michael Bond and Representative Sandy Cole. This was my first chance to speak with Mr. Bond. I found it rather discouraging. He seem to answer our questions in more general terms trying to figure out what was the best politicians words to use. He seemed to be totally defending the current broken system and how we need to respect teachers more like Asian countries. He did agree that schools were not living up to expectations and needed to be greatly improved.
Mrs. Cole was rushed since the House was still in session. We had only a few minutes to speak. I have previously met with her and she seems open to other ideas, although I am still not convinced she is not just telling me what I want to hear and then votes to continue the current broken system. This was evident by her vote approving the authority for schools to use no-bid contracts.
I had contacted the Clerk of the House before going and had prepared a flyer for Fund The Child to give to every Representative and State Senator. I was in the Capitol first so I took my flyers to the Secretary of the Senate. I was told they were not allowed to have them place the flyers in the mailboxes (too much like lobbying). I was told the Clerk would do the same thing and that I should hand deliver them. I was able to deliver some, but my time did not allow me to hand them all out. My question is though, why can’t a flyer from a private citizen be handed out to everyone? I sure pay enough in taxes. I even had all the addresses and names on the flyers so this would have taken very little effort.
One of the Legislative Assistants relayed to us a story about the kids from the rally. While she was walking through the Capitol, one of the students put his shoulder into her knocking her to her knees. She stated it was obviously on purpose given where she was in relation to the student, the action taken and the reaction afterwards. She was able to locate the students teacher and report the incident, but she did not have any information on any disciplinary action.
The teachers that were brought to this event should have been screened first. I had to show 2 of them how to get water to wash their hands from the outdoor sinks beside the portable bathrooms. I had a good laugh after that, but felt very sorry for the kids they teach.