Sunday, September 3, 2017

How vouchers came to IL. Cardinal Cupich lets cat out of the bag.

First, let me thank the good Cardinal for setting things straight. There was no arm-twisting necessary when it came to getting Democrats to vote for the school funding bill that brought vouchers to IL Most came along willingly with Gov. Rauner and the Republican caucus, following the lead of Madigan, Cullerton, Rahm Emanuel and the rest of the state's Democratic leadership down the school privatization path.

The bill, which will divert millions of taxpayer dollars from cash-strapped public school classrooms into private, religious, and charter schools, also offers massive tax breaks for the state's wealthiest. It's what the CTU calls, "a reverse Robin Hood scheme." They're right.

Cupich tells Crain's how he turned out to be a timely lobbyist for a school funding bill containing controversial tax credits for Catholic and other private school donors.
But he says he twisted no arms to help win passage earlier this week. Nor did he travel to Springfield. Instead, he spoke with legislative leaders by telephone amid ongoing deliberations over changes to the state school aid formula and more money for Chicago Public Schools.
"I don't like to go into the boiler room," he tells Crain's. "What leverage do I have?"
The bill demolishes the long-standing principle of church/state separation and throws a gold-plated lifeline to private and religious school operators who are free to teach the Church doctrines, ie. anti-contraception, "intelligent design", anti-LGBTQ, etc.. free from public accountability.

I'm not in any way, connecting this to the giant campaign donors who accompanied Rahm and financed the mayor's massive delegation to Rome last year, to witness Cupich's elevation by the Vatican to Cardinal. That just wouldn't be fair of me.

White flight...
Chicago's archdiocese began closing most of the city's Catholic schools in response to white flight back in the '70s, when many white parishioners fled from the inner city to the suburbs and school seats became filled with the children of mainly-poor immigrants from Mexico and Central America. More recently, it's school population dwindled as many black Catholics joined the great black out-migration from the city and state.

According to Crain's:
A year ago the Chicago Archdiocese had 76,475 students at 217 schools; that compares with 365,000 students at 524 schools in 1965. Some 40 schools have been closed or consolidated since 2010. 
In the last 30 years, the number of full-time teachers and administrators has dropped to 5,105 from 8,441, while the share of higher-paid lay teachers has soared. Only 87 teachers are in a religious order, compared with 1,529 three decades ago. The archdiocese says per-pupil spending is a median $5,745, a figure that is slightly higher for Chicago-only schools.
With the wealthiest being given a massive tax break for investing in the so-called "Scholarship Fund", taxpayers will have to make up the loss of revenue with massive increases in their property and other regressive taxes.

The whole scheme was hatched months ago by Rahm and Cupich, evidenced by recently revealed exchanges of emails between the two. The emails showed that the lobbying cardinal had an inside direct line to the mayor and that Rahm expressed an openness to the voucher idea months ago.

According to the Sun-Times:
Cardinal Blasé Cupich emailed the mayor in mid-April after learning that U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was scheduling meetings with big-city mayors on Trump administration education priorities.
“I am personally interested in the proposal to fund a $20 billion federal education tax credit as part of the federal tax reform. I am convinced that this could be an enormous boost to the Chicago schools and the thousands of parents who use our [Catholic] schools,” Cupich wrote. “I am grateful that you understand the importance of school choice for poor families who see this as a viable way for the family to move out of poverty.”
Then, Rahm's closed door meeting last April, with Betsy DeVos, appears to have put the plan into motion. Who would have thought that blue state Illinois would become the showpiece for DeVos' "school choice" agenda?

Cardinal knowledge...
Cupich lays out the rationale that moved Rahm and the Democrats to support the bill. He claims that by enticing students and families out of CPS, he saves taxpayers $1 billion a year through lower public school enrollment.

By extension, one can only imagine how much money taxpayers would save by getting rid of public education entirely. Zero students, zero cost per/student to taxpayers.

It's like a thief stealing your wallet while on you're on your way to the grocery store, and then telling you how much money he saved you on your food bill.


  1. I'm sorry that Illinois has stooped as low as Indiana. Welcome to the 'choice' that destroys. I'm sure DeVos and tRump are praising this day. [Everyday brings in a new load of garbage caused by our Great Leader. I wake up and know another blast will come. So far I've never been disappointed.]

  2. Let's see what happens now that the Cardinal has hopped into bed with the devil. That's a really risky move that the Catholic Church just made. They think this will get more people to join the catholic church and pump up it's dwindling numbers (money into the collection plates!)? I think people have strayed away from the catholic church because of it's greed and it's obsession with money collection.

  3. If you want a good overview of the anti-constitutional nature of vouchers, try this on for size.
    For what it's worth, Chicago already has a voucher system, neoliberal style. It's called Per Pupil Budgeting, where the money follows the kid from school to school within the CPS system. All Rahm, Ruiner and Cupich have done is break down the wall between church and state here, the wall we should have had between profiteers/corporations and the public's education tax dollars was already in ruins. FYI, charters are NOT public schools. They are publicly funded private schools per the NLRB and per their own lawyers when they are dragged into court by folks who want an accounting of how their public tax money was spent and what they got for it.

  4. Now that Illinois has decided to jump into a voucher system, parameters must be put into place. (this should have been part of the bill) Schools providing scholarships from tax revenues should be required to guarantee:
    1. A multi-year commitment to each child. Students need a consistent school environment. A K-8 program should guarantee access to that child for all of the years a child is eligible to attend.
    2. Evidence of adequate yearly progress.
    3. An opt out of religious instruction.
    4. Open Financial records to those seeking information. Schools that are not financially solvent or practice questionable accounting practices should not be allowed to receive scholarship money.

    At this time taxpayers have no assurances the voucher program is anything more than a money grab to shore up private schools for their current student population. The schools get a benefit without accepting any risk. The wealthy get a tax right-off for their child's private school. And the taxpayer gets nothing.
    Accountability is a must.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.