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Chicago School District Ramps Up Campaign to Push State for More Funding

The Chicago school district is ramping up its campaign that calls for "equitable" state education funding for the cash-strapped school system.

The district launched a new website to encourage parents and city residents to contact their legislators to demand more funding for the school system, and it even has a new Twitter handle, @CPSEquality, to help promote the campaign and bring attention to the funding issue.

The new push for the "20% for 20%" campaign comes after Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed education budget indicated that Chicago would lose about $74 million next year. That's on top of cuts in state funding last year, according to the district.

The district argues that Chicago students make up 20 percent of the state's student enrollment and that the city's residents contribute 20 percent of the state's income tax. Yet, Chicago students receive 15 percent of state funding, according to the district.

That's unfair, school officials say, and they want that to change.

"It's time for us to stand together and say 'no' to Governor Rauner's cuts to Chicago students," district CEO Forrest Claypool, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Claypool has been sounding this note for some time.

"We ask state legislators, not just in Chicago but in every low-income community throughout Illinois, to vote 'no' on any education budget that does not reform the broken system under which Chicago children receive 74 cents for every dollar the rest of Illinois receives," he said. "We are not asking for a bailout; fair and equal funding is not a bailout. We are just asking that our children be treated equally, regardless of their zip code, their country of origin, or their race."

The renewed push to get changes on the state level was highlighted Tuesday at an event with community leaders at Drake Elementary School.

Even as the Chicago Teachers' Union and the district remain locked in a disagreement over a labor contract, they both concur that changes in how Illinois funds Chicago's schools have to be part of the overall solution to put the district back on sound financial footing.

In a press conference on Monday to respond to the teachers' union decision to reject a fact finder's recommendations on a new labor contract, Claypool urged the union to agree to a contract so that the two parties can work together to remedy state funding issues. 

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