|Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan, left,visits with House Republican Leader Jim Durkin after the education funding bill passed.|
"In a lot of ways, the state Dems' endorsement of scholarships for private schools reminds me of Conor McGregor: lots of talk before the fight and not much resistance once it got going."-- Ben Joravsky in the Reader.The passage of the IL school funding bill, which included $75M for private school vouchers, is being hailed as a "model of bi-partisanship" and "compromise" by both Gov. Rauner and Speaker Madigan. It was neither. It was instead, an exercise in duplicity on the part of state Democrats and a lifeline for a Republican governor who had become totally isolated and ripe for a 2018 election defeat after his initial veto of the same school funding bill.
Democrats demonstrated once again that they're a party that stands for nothing and that their campaign slogan of a "Better Deal" as opposed to resistance, is little more than a call for more opportunism. It's a recipe for disaster in the upcoming elections where Republicans shouldn't have a leg to stand on.
Remember how Rauner was elected in the first place after Democratic incumbent Quinn showed the same duplicity by signing the unconstitutional pension theft bill.
And speaking of disaster, it was the manufactured crisis caused by years of inadequate and inequitable funding of state schools and the pension fund, that provided the rationale for this stunning sellout. A model of what Naomi Klein called disaster capitalism in her book, Shock Doctrine. A drowning man will grab onto a rope, not caring who or what is on the other end of the line.
As Rahm says:
"You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."In this case, using the public fear over the prospect of schools not opening on time, to somehow realize a school privatization plan, in the form of vouchers, which Democrats supposedly hated.
The Madigan/Rahm engineered flip-flop by Democrats on the voucher bill vote, all within a few hours on Monday and then yesterday's senate vote, reveals the rank opportunism of the party's leadership and the spinelessness of those who voted yes after first voting no.
There was no "compromise" to be made since the voucher deal between Chicago's mayor and Cardinal Cupich, had been in the works for months, specifically since Rahm's closed door meeting with Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos back in April. Monday's two House votes were mere Madigan-choreographed theater.
While the funding bill does pump badly-need cash into the to state schools which have largely been operating on heavy borrowing and without a budget for the more than two years, it was more a case of one hand giveth which the other taketh away.
The bill only partly addresses the historic bleeding, or what the Tribune calls, the "growing structural deficit" in IL schools and provides some pension relief for Chicago. But school funding in the state will remain inadequate for years to come. That's because IL still ranks at or near the bottom when it comes to paying the state's share of school funding.
So, while the mayor claims the bill's passage would give cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools what they wanted and more. continue to look for more cuts in school programs, more teacher firings, more attacks on special education and after-school programs.
The bulk of funding still comes from local regressive property taxes. It's a formula that reproduces inequality within a system where high-poverty, mostly black and Latino districts bear the brunt.
This bill did nothing to change that, offering no new revenue sources. Instead of raising taxes on the wealthiest, the bill offers them another massive tax break while homeowners are in for another round of massive tax increases. In order to get to an adequate funding level for the state’s schools, IL will need to come up with at least $6 billion over the next 10 years. The bill authorizes the Chicago Board of Education, comprised of mayoral appointees, to impose a property-tax hike worth $125 million without any involvement whatsoever from the Chicago City Council, whose members are elected.
Wealthy investors will get a massive tax break, $.75 on every dollar donated to the so-called "scholarship fund" for private school tuition. The millions in the fund, taken straight out of public school classrooms, will supposedly help students "escape" from "failing" public schools.
And here, the mayor was just boasting about the magical jump in CPS test scores and graduation rates. Makes you wonder why, at the same time, he'd be greasing this "escape" route.