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Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois Budget: The Battles Soon to Come

Compared to our Great Lakes neighbors, things have been pretty quiet in city and state politics, probably because Daley’s on his way out and power didn’t shift too much after the midterms. But our politics will heat up with the weather.

I mentioned the other day that Illinois political news had been eerily quiet recently. Especially in comparison to our neighbors: protests throughout the Great Lakes states, especially Wisconsin, where they’ve moved on to the spectacle of dueling recall drives. That’s about to change.

One of the reasons things had been so quiet was that Illinois Republicans hadn’t released anything more than a ballpark figure for budget cuts. Today they released a plan that goes into a fair amount of detail. You can catch the summary at the Sun-Times or Capitol Fax, or you can read the whole thing here (PDF). It’s pretty light on attacking rhetoric. Heck, they even said we should invoke the Chicago Way:

While Medicaid spending reductions save taxpayer dollars, they do result in less revenue from the federal government. Given that Illinois is the home of the President, that his former Chief of Staff is now Mayor of Chicago and that the state’s senior U.S. Senator is the Number Two Democrat in the Senate, Senate Republicans believe that it is not unreasonable that the loss could be mitigated by changes in federal match formulas for Illinois.

I’m still thinking about it. Commenters at Capitol Fax, always an interesting gauge of informed opinion, are tentatively hopeful. Pat Quinn was a little quicker to the punch:

On Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno’s call for $6.7 billion in cuts to his budget proposal, Quinn said the “apostles” of “draconian cuts” end up hurting the economy and job growth.

The governor’s office press release was also a bit tone deaf: “We appreciate the Senate’s effort to identify additional savings. The challenge, however, is not coming up with myriad possibilities. As we examine their proposals, we must look at their consequences.” But that is kind of the challenge, or at least the first half of it.

Anyway, the Senate Republicans might have some political momentum, for the first time in awhile.

Also in the queue is education reform, with new proposed legislation about vouchers and charter schools; Catalyst has a good rundown.

Ben Joravsky takes a look at Ron Huberman’s legacy, or lack thereof, and brings up a good point:

I know you hear a lot about the need to rewrite tenure laws so it’s easier to fire “bad” teachers—as if good and bad are easy to define. But in this case only 40 of the 1,300 or so teachers fired in the purge had less than a satisfactory rating, according to CPS records.

Several of them—like Sunny Neater-DuBow, who I wrote about in September—had received national board certification, one of the most prestigious designations in education, and had been honored by Mayor Daley and the board.

It’s worth going back and taking a look at Joravsky’s piece on Neater-DuBow, as well as a piece by Joravsky and Dave Glowacz, if you wonder why teachers cling tenaciously to unions.

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