Chicago Public Schools spends 55% more on 20% fewer students since 2010
Over 87,000 students have left Chicago Public Schools and student proficiency rates have dropped since the militant Caucus of Rank and File Educators took over the Chicago Teachers Union in 2010. All that, and 55% higher costs.
The Caucus of Rank and File Educators, or CORE, has been at the helm of the Chicago Teachers Union since 2010, overseeing higher taxes for fewer students and poorer academic performance.
Nearly 410,000 students were enrolled in Chicago Public Schools at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. This fall, about 322,000 students remained. The district has shrunk by more than 20% under CORE leadership – a loss of over 87,000 students.
The district’s demands on taxpayers have ballooned by 55% during that time. CPS will collect more than $7 billion from state and local taxpayers in fiscal year 2023. That number was $4.5 billion in fiscal year 2010.
But dropping enrollment is not the only concern about the district since CORE took over in 2010.
Academic proficiency among CPS students has been declining in recent years, based on achievement reports for grades 3 through 8 filed by the district with the Illinois State Board of Education.
Between 2010 and 2014, the share of students considered proficient in reading dropped by 29%; in math, that share dropped 30%. After a change in state testing – between 2015 and 2022 – student proficiency dropped 33% in reading and 31% in math.
At the end of the past school year, just 20% of third through eighth graders on average were proficient in reading and 15% in math.
Why are families leaving and students struggling?
The militant bargaining tactics used too often by CTU leaders to get their demands met have not been in the best interests of CPS students and families – or taxpayers.
CTU has gone on strike twice and walked out on students three times since CORE took over union leadership in 2010. A year ago the union illegally walked out on students over COVID-19 protocols, giving parents just hours to scramble for a back-up plan after the union decided not to show up for in-person classes.
Parent Sarah Sachen has seen her kids struggle in the wake of repeated school closures caused by the union.
“When the union calls a strike, it impacts families financially, educationally, socially,” Sachen said. “CTU wants to keep pushing and striking for demands not even related to education and I don’t want the CTU to have any more power to do that. Learning should not be impeded or stopped for the union’s political games.”
The union acts as though it faces no consequences for interrupting students’ learning and instead celebrates its use of strike power. Its website proudly claims it “spread the new gospel” of strike power and instigated strikes in public school districts across the country after its 2012 strike.
CPS parents are tired of watching teachers walk out on their children and seeing their students’ learning sacrificed for union leader demands. Taxpayers are also weary of CTU’s militancy.
The union’s most recent contract with the district came on the heels of a two-week strike during which students missed 11 days of classroom instruction. CTU leaders flexed their muscles over staffing decisions and social agendas in the district, and taxpayers were called upon to carry the cost of the expensive contract.
The contract included teacher raises despite district teacher salaries growing 75% faster than the salaries of everyday Chicagoans during the 10 years leading up to the 2019 strike. And those same Chicagoans were expected to pay for the more-expensive contract which was projected to cost residents an average of $80 a year in higher property taxes.
While CTU frequently walks out on students, it is also fighting against giving parents and students other options outside traditional neighborhood schools. CTU wants to eliminate Illinois’ only school choice program, the Invest in Kids Act. This scholarship program provides a choice for low-income families and students who can’t afford schooling options outside the public system but are seeking a better fit beyond traditional neighborhood schools.
If CTU and its allies get their way, over 9,000 low-income students across the state will lose their scholarships to attend private school. The Invest in Kids Act should be expanded and made permanent to ensure families have educational choices.