As students begin to return to school, there is a growing urgency for lawmakers to get something done so state money can start flowing once again to the 852 school districts around the state. Of all of them, Chicago may have the most at stake.
Chicago Public School students are gearing up for the first day of classes with back to school parties aimed at getting kids excited for the start of school on Sept. 5. But with education funding still in limbo as lawmakers feud over how to make it happen, Mayor Emanuel again pushed for an override of the governor's veto.
"Springfield will be voted in the House tomorrow. They have a decision to end 20 years of discriminator funding, the worst funding when it comes to total dollars spent," he said.
The mayor spoke Tuesday morning at a Northwest Side school as he touted significant gains in standardized test scores for CPS students for whom English is a second language. At Canty Elementary, students speak 14 different languages.
"Our kids are closing the achievement gap as it relates to reading and math. It's time that Springfield and Governor Rauner close the funding gap and back up the kids who are setting records, who should be held up as an example rather than being torn down," Emanuel said.
The governor vetoed Senate Bill 1, saying it provided a pension bailout for Chicago Public Schools, which would take money away from other poor districts. The Senate overrode his veto, but with not enough votes in the House, top lawmakers met again Tuesday to discuss a compromise. Meanwhile, schools prepare to reopen with a lot of uncertainty, hoping an equitable funding bill can be passed soon.
"Time and time again, our students are proving they are worth it and worthy of not only a high quality education system but adequate funding in order to support it," said Janice Jackson, CPS Chief Education Officer.
Legislative leaders met throughout the afternoon and into the evening, but their spokespeople were tight-lipped about the nature of any progress being made. Madigan announced shortly before 8 p.m. he had cancelled the session "due to progress made in talks today."
BREAKING: Speaker Madigan has cancelled session due to progress made in talks today.— BlueRoomStream (@BlueRoomStream) August 23, 2017