August 3, 2010
The first obligation of Chicago Public Schools is to foster and improve the educational opportunities of our approximately 409,000 students. In this challenging economic time, we have been faced with difficult choices on how to preserve classroom resources for our students while at the same time confronting painful budget realities.
Despite the fact that CPS has been meeting with the Chicago Teachers Union for more than seven months—repeatedly requesting the union’s input on our fiscal challenges—the CTU lawsuit filed August 2 willfully ignores the state’s budget crisis. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Illinois is in worse shape than any other state. This crisis has a profound effect on every school district, including our own. Today, Chicago Public Schools confronts a $370 million deficit. To deny this reality makes no sense, nor does it serve our students’ needs.
Contrary to what the Chicago Teachers Union has alleged, we have not fired teachers “capriciously, callously and without legal grounds”. Instead, we have targeted our reductions in force to areas that minimize the negative impact on our students.
“While all layoffs are painful, one of our choices was to lay off teachers who received ‘unsatisfactory’ ratings in their evaluations prior to laying off higher-performing teachers. We believe that this approach is in the best interest of our students, and we’re disappointed that the union does not share this view,” said CEO Ron Huberman.
We have been forced to take action over the past few weeks because we are under time constraints that grow tighter every day. One-hundred ninety-five of our Track E schools serving almost 100,000 students open Monday. We cannot wait.
We believe the CTU’s lawsuit is without merit and we will vigorously defend the district’s actions and policies against the allegations this lawsuit raises. We must—and will—protect our students from the effect of this budget crisis.
Chicago Public Schools serves 417,855 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.