Over a billion dollars of taxpayer money will be diverted from Chicago’s school children to high interest loan payments to bankers over the next three decades as the result of an under-the-radar visit by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Wall street where he quietly negotiated a bond deal.
Emanuel’s administration has focused on wage and pension cuts as a solution to the half billion dollar budget shortfall, while Rauner, after denying aid to the school children with whose wellbeing he is entrusted, shocked Chicagoans by calling for a state take over of the school system.
This didn’t sit too well with Chicago parents, contemplating the poisoning of Flint’s children by a similar Republican governor’s takeover. “Will Rauner connect the schools’ water fountains to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to save a buck?” asked an anxious dad at the LaSalle Street protest.
“State takeovers planned by Rauner are not in the interest of the children,” said Bea Johnson, another teacher who had taken to the streets after she got off work that day. “I’ve been teaching 22 years and this is about the worse I’ve seen. I love the kids, that’s why I’m doing this. The Chicago public schools are the reason I was able to start out on a fabulous career as a teacher. I want the kids to have the same opportunity.”
Rauner’s plan for a state takeover actually made Mayor Emanuel’s deal with the banks worse than it originally was.
The rate for the $750 million in bonds the school district had to sell to meet its obligations ballooned to 8.5 per cent as the district’s credit rating dropped when the governor’s threat hit the headlines. The bonds, which have a 28-year life, will assign $43 million every year from the district’s budget to interest payments to the financiers, enough to buy a laptop every year for every one of Chicago’s school kids, or to put 1,000 laid off teachers back in the classroom.
Admittedly, this article does not explore the entire story of precisely what Emanuel did, but it’s pretty clear that what is happening in Chicago schools is part and parcel of the larger pro-corporate, anti-public service, anti-union agenda of both Emanuel and Bruce Rauner.