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Chicago Principal Asks What Matters Most: Children or Business?

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Author: dianeravitch

Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary School in Chicago, challenges Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s claim that he could not avoid layoffs and could not fund educators’ pensions.

Not true, writes LaRaviere.

“However — as I understand it — we do not want to stop at just
being functional. We want to be effective. We want to be excellent.

“For that to happen, we need early at-home interventions for preschool-age children from low-income households, smaller student-to-teacher ratios, thoughtful training for teachers, a competitive compensation and benefits package to attract skilled professionals. We need a rich arts curriculum, exceptional educators whose efforts are focused on the children who come to us less prepared than their peers, a rigorous curriculum tailored to local student needs and the thoughtful use of technology in schools.

“The 2013 budget cuts meant that many of our students lost some of those things — the resources that move a school from being functional to being excellent. The 2015 budget cuts will mean that my students — and students across Chicago — will lose even more.

“Politicians frame this as pension payment vs. classroom investment — as if those were the only two expenses our tax dollars are used for and one of them has to be sacrificed. This is patently false. City Hall has had many opportunities for sacrifice in other areas, but it has refused to make those sacrifices.

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel had a chance to sacrifice the diversion of $55 million in taxes to a hotel near McCormick Place. He could have invested some of that tax increment financing money in the pension system instead.”

LaRaviere lists other savings that were there for the Mayor, but he never asked business to sacrifice. Only the children.

He writes:

“Emanuel says one thing, but his behavior says another. He has put investor profits over investing in our teachers and their classrooms.

“He wants us to get used to that. I will never get used to that.

“And neither should you.”

By the way, the tag line on Principal LaRaviere’s email is: “You can’t put students first if you put teachers last.”

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