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Superstar principal Troy La Raviere in Chicago steps back to assess the deadlock between the mayor and the Chicago Teachers Union.
He recalls a recent conversation with Paul Vallas. He writes:
“I’m not an admirer of his education policy, but Vallas was the last Chicago Public Schools CEO to leave the district with a structurally balanced long-term budget. He also left CPS with a fully funded pension system, and over $1 billion in reserves. When Vallas returned to Chicago this past August, I was fortunate enough to have an hour-long conversation with him a few days before we both participated in a panel at the City Club of Chicago. During our conversation—and during the panel—Vallas outlined the financial rules that kept CPS budgets balanced during his tenure. Those practices included the following:
“He did not add programs without identifying additional revenue to pay for them.
“He did not borrow for operational expenses.
“He did not spend on new schools when there was declining enrollment. Building new schools should be based on demographics, not school reform ideology.
“He did not redirect funding for pension payments toward other spending projects.
“After Vallas’ departure, the mayor’s appointees to CPS lost all fiscal discipline and consistently violated every one of these sound budgeting practices. As a result of their mismanagement, CPS now claims they need “shared sacrifice” from teachers. Teachers union officials don’t seem to have the kind of consistent and concise messaging the Mayor’s office has, so the average news consumer may not notice that within CTU’s response are the keys to solving CPS’ fiscal crisis. I will take the liberty of fine-tuning CTU’s message and speaking as the Chicago public school teacher and union member I once was, before becoming an administrator nearly a decade ago.”
LaRaviere then describes what is necessary to fix the budget. And he identifies who must share in sacrificing to put the system in a sound financial footing.