Gov. Rauner calls some Chicago schools ‘crumbling prisons’

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CHICAGO -- Governor Bruce Rauner says even though the state does not have a budget, he wants Republicans and Democrats to pass education funding. But the politics are complicated. The governor is locked into a fierce battle with people who support extra money for Chicago Public Schools. And today there were more sharp words.

Today, Governor Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were back at it, trading nasty barbs. The war of words escalated when the governor said this:

“When you look objectively at the status of Chicago Public Schools many of them are inadequate. Many of them are woeful and some are just tragic. Many of them are basically just crumbling prisons.”

Not long after Governor Rauner spoke, Mayor Emanuel hit back.

“Now it sounds like he’s auditioning to be Donald Trump’s running mate.”

 Outraged CPS parents chimed in, tweeting images of children with the hashtag, "#Notaprison."

In a statement Alderman Raymond Lopez said, “…I am actually astonished by the brazen, racist insults which Gov. Rauner has leveled at our Chicago Public Schools.”

And CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said, “Frankly, the Governor’s comments comparing Chicago schools to ‘crumbling prisons’ are disrespectful and beneath his office.”

The feud between the mayor and governor comes as CPS and other districts face the possibility of not opening in the fall.

Illinois remains without education funding. And for CPS, the situation is particularly dire. The district is facing a $1 billion budget deficit and must come up with a $676 million pension payment by the end of the month.

The governor says it’s not fair for Illinois taxpayers to “bail out” CPS. Instead, Rauner wants the Illinois legislature to increase early childhood education and general state aid. No extra cash for CPS, the governor says, until the state passes a balanced budget.

“I wanna be supportive of Chicago Public Schools but I need to be supportive of all schools and have a fair structure,” Rauner said.

But with a new study showing that the CPS graduation rate is on the rise as well as reading scores for some grades, Mayor Emanuel says now is not the time for deep cuts to the district. The mayor threw the test scores at the governor.

“He may have a stereotype that plays to his political philosophy, but those are not the results,” Emanuel said.

Superintendents from 15 school districts wrote a letter to Governor Rauner calling on the Governor to quite “rise above political games.”

Also today another Chicago alderman went after Governor Rauner. Howard Brookins, Chair of City Council’s Education Committee said on Facebook:

“Words matter, and the offensive way that Governor Rauner speaks about Chicago families is just getting uglier and uglier….  It’s time for Governor Rauner to apologize for his inflammatory rhetoric that insults our children and degrades their achievements.”

Governor Rauner says Mayor Emanuel’s failure to stand up to House Speaker Michael Madigan and help pass his economic agenda is the biggest disappointment of his time in office. The governor is not backing down on trying to pit Democrats against each other.

And meanwhile, Illinois schools remain in jeopardy.