To the Editor:
Contrary to a Catalyst report in the March issue, Designs for Change and other reform activists have made no agreement to stop pushing for a legislative increase in State Chapter 1 funds controlled by local Chicago schools, and I never made such a statement to your reporter.
Over several months, LSC members and supporters from across the city have built legislative support for an immediate $16 million increase in the minimum amount of money that the Chicago Board of Education must distribute to the schools for locally determined programs, with future increases pegged to the growth of general State aid for the Chicago system.
A bill with these provisions was introduced in the House this session by Rep. Edgar Lopez and 19 co-sponsors representing all parts of Chicago.
LSC members were confident that the bill would be advanced by the House Education Committee, where it faced its first vote in mid-February. However, Rep. Lopez withdrew the bill from consideration under pressure from the City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools, despite consistent urging by LSC members that he proceed. Local school activists are continuing to build House and Senate support for a Chapter 1 increase by attachment to another bill this session.
Since the total Chapter 1 entitlement for local schools was set at the current minimum of $261 million back in 1995, overall state aid for school programs in Chicago has grown by more than $450 million. But not one new State Chapter 1 dollar has been passed on by the Chicago board for locally designed programs. The board holds local leaders accountable for school improvement while slowly starving them of the financial resources at its disposal.
Only legislative action will result in the local schools receiving a fair and stable share of state funding for Chicago. Unfortunately, local school activists still must push for that result against opposition by the central office of Chicago Public Schools.
policy reform director
Designs for Change
Editor’s Note: Catalyst regrets the misunderstanding and erroneous report.