The Chicago Teacher’s Union received three times more support from Chicagoans than Mayor Rahm Emanuel on how to improve the city’s ailing public school system, according to a Chicago Tribune report released Thursday.
According to the poll, 60 percent of Chicagoans side with the teacher’s union on how to improve schools. Only 20 percent of Chicagoans side with Emanuel while 12 percent backed neither side and 7 percent had no opinion.
The relationship between CPS and the teacher’s union has grown increasingly tenuous, as CTU’s 40-member “Big Bargaining Team” unanimously rejected an offer from Chicago Public Schools Monday. District CEO Forrest Claypool then announced cuts of $100 million to school budgets Tuesday. CTU President Karen Lewis referred to the cuts as an “act of war."
CPS officials also took out a high interest loan of $725 million Wednesday to help prop up the already cash strapped school system. CPS is facing a $480 million budget deficit for this school year and the district projects a $1.1 billion deficit for next year.
Last December, 88 percent of CTU members voted to strike if a new contact agreement wasn’t reached. State law requires 75 percent support for a strike. The union’s last strike was in September of 2012 and lasted nine days. CTU held a rally downtown Thursday to protest the district’s recent decisions.
The Tribune poll also found that Emanuel’s approval rating on education has fallen to an all-time low. This comes on the heels of Monday’s Tribune poll which found that only 27 percent of Chicagoans approve of Emanuel’s leadership and job performance while 63 percent disapprove.
Emanuel has come under fire in the wake of the Oct. 2014 fatal police shooting of Chicago teen Laquan McDonald. Nonetheless, Emanuel was confident about CPS’ contract offer when he spoke to "Chicago Tonight" last Thursday.
"I think it's better for me to characterize it as very good discussions, with a lot of respect on both sides for the challenges they're facing, but to try to create a win-win situation for both teachers, taxpayers and our students," Emanuel said.
Gov. Bruce Rauner moved forward this week with his plan for a state takeover of Chicago Public Schools and is currently looking for an interim superintendent for the district. If legislation introduced to the state senate and house is passed, control of CPS would be given to the Illinois State Board of Education.
“Gov. Rauner’s threat of a takeover of CPS represents an educational abomination,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said during a press conference Wednesday. “This is a guy who knows nothing about real education.”
The Emanuel administration did not respond to Ward Room’s request for comment.