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The Mechanics
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Education Thu Apr 15 2010

Schools Chief Fudges Numbers, Uses Deficit to Beat up on Teachers Union


Teachers union leaders angrily accused D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee of unethical behavior Tuesday by failing to disclose the discovery of a $34 million surplus in the school system budget in February, three months after laying off 266 teachers because of what she described as a budget shortfall.

News of the surplus comes at a critical time for Rhee and the teachers union, who just last week announced a tentative contract agreement that ended more than two years of often rancorous bargaining. The two sides were close to a deal late last summer when union anger over Rhee's plans for layoffs delayed its completion.


Last Thursday, Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman announced a $900 million projected deficit for next year. Huberman's presentation[ii] specifically singled out "increases in pension costs" and "increases in teacher compensation" as the main causes of this crisis.[iii]


Can we trust this announcement? No. This is a political announcement designed to build public support for attacking teachers. Though there is a recession, and we expect there to be some deficit, Huberman's numbers are suspect.

  • For the past eight years the BOE has projected a deficit in January or February only to show surpluses in the actual audited budget as presented in August.[iv] These discrepancies have averaged over $300 million each year.
  • No transparency--the presentation that we have been shown is not a budget, does not reveal any of the underlying assumptions on which the projection has been based, and does not seem to add up to $900 million, in any case.[v]
  • The percentage CPS spends on salaries has actually shrunk since 2004, while the amount of the reserve (fixed charges) has ballooned to over 8% of the budget. [vi] That's right, we getting a smaller piece of the pie, but being blamed for the financial troubles.


brad / April 15, 2010 9:14 PM

This is nothing but the continued plan to have private entities take over public education.

Arlene Gloria Hirsch, CORE Teacher, Retired / April 16, 2010 11:41 PM


You hit the nail on the head. Brad did too.

CORE Teachers [Caucus of Rank & File Educators] have been leading the resistance to school privatization here. They have been written about nationally for saving 12 Chicago schools and general courageous leadership. They combine their love of teaching with their commitment to students, parents, and community.

The CTU election in May is a major opportunity
to restore healthy leadership to Chicago Schools.

Karen Lewis, CORE candidate for President of CTU, and the CORE slate of over 100 smart, dedicated teachers who work well together, are just the ticket.

And here's CORE's exciting new video:

Arlene Gloria Hirsch

CORE Teacher - Ret.

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