All posts by morgangilbard

Republican takeover proposal frustrates school officials

By Morgan Gilbard

The financial future of Chicago Public Schools already looked dire to those on the inside before Republican officials proposed a state takeover of the district last week. Now, many opponents see it as a vibrant political circus.

“Suggesting the state manage the affairs of Chicago Public Schools is like recommending a cocaine addict handle the affairs of an alcoholic,” said Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary and an outspoken critic of Illinois legislative leadership.

The Republican bill would disband the Chicago Board of Education, transfer district control to an independent party and possibly allow the district to file for bankruptcy in an attempt to close a $480 million deficit. Continue reading

Special education money at risk in recommended budget

By Morgan Gilbard

State Board of Education officials discussed their 2017 budget recommendation like it was a Rubik’s cube: What can they shift to make Illinois schools work?

Unanimously approved by the board earlier this month, the budget recommends $2.5 billion in spending— an increase of $262 million from 2016.

In an unprecedented move, the board also recommended that the General Assembly shift $309 million normally targeted for special education into the general fund distributed for all students. Districts would then be allowed to distribute special education funding at their own discretion.

Continue reading

Students protest CPS teacher cuts, lack of school funding

By Morgan Gilbard

Cynthia Sandoval dreams of being the kind of teacher she had in elementary school, the kind of teacher who helped her learn English when she began second grade. Sandoval, now a sophomore at Benito Juarez Community Academy, is concerned about her teachers facing possible lay-offs as Chicago Public Schools tries to solve its massive budget problems.

Sandoval, holding a picket sign, stood outside the Thompson Center in the Loop with approximately 60 of her peers last week before they all marched past City Hall, CPS headquarters on Clark Street, Board of Education President Frank Clark’s home, and finally Juarez Academy in Pilsen. At Juarez,  other students walked out of classes to join the protest.

Most of the students don’t have solutions to the challenges officials face in erasing the $480 million deficit. They just want to keep their teachers in school. Continue reading

What local abortion activists fear now

By Morgan Gilbard

Raven Geary fears for her own life when she goes to work.

For five years, Geary has been a clinic escort at various women’s health centers in Chicago. Her bright pink clinic escort vest isn’t bulletproof and especially since the Nov. 27 attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, she’s been worried. “Whenever there’s a lull in anti-choice terrorism, I get sort of like, ‘Okay, things are going okay,” said Geary. “And then it happens again. Like, ‘Oh, shoot.”

Geary demonstrated with approximately 30 other abortion activists in solidarity with Planned Parenthood at a rally in the Loop on Dec. 1. “You never know who could show up at the facilities we work at,” said rally organizer Benita Ulisano, the president of the Clinic Vest Project, which provides the bright smocks that allow women to easily identify allies who can escort them past anti-abortion protesters. “We just want people to realize how important safe and legal abortion is and it’s a right we need to protect.” Continue reading