Chicago Schools Hit With New Round Of Layoffs

Chicago's school district is laying off 2,000-plus workers, more than 1,000 of them are teachers. These layoffs are in addition to 855 employees who were laid off in June because of the decision to close 49 elementary schools and a high school program. Chicago Public Schools is blaming this round of layoffs on the schools' $1 billion budget deficit and the lack of pension reform.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Today the Chicago Public School District began contacting more than 2,000 teachers and other employees to let them know they no longer have jobs. It's the second round of massive layoffs this year in Chicago. The teacher's union there calls it a bloodbath. Here's NPR's Cheryl Corley.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: This layoff announcement is just the latest in a year of upheaval for the Chicago public schools. There's been a school strike, budget cuts and two months ago, Chicago announced it would close the largest number of public schools at one time ever in U.S. history - 49 elementary schools and one high school program. That meant 850 workers, more than half of them teachers, would lose their jobs. Now, today, more pink slips.

RUTH OXBERGER: I believe that every child should have the privilege to have the highest level of education.

CORLEY: Ruth Oxberger had learned just two hours earlier that she would be among the 1,000 or so teachers and the 1,000 more clerks, cafeteria workers, security guards and other school staffers losing their jobs. Chicago school officials say the district faces a historic $1 billion deficit, based in part on a huge $400 million hike in annual teacher pension payments. Jesse Sharkey, the vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, or CTU, says the school district shouldn't point its finger at the union.

JESSE SHARKEY: Really blaming retired teachers who make an average of $40,000 a year for their retirement, who get no Social Security, who never missed a payment, while the city itself didn't put any money into the fund for ten years, who have had a massive pension holiday for three years, we think that's hypocrisy.

CORLEY: Sharkey says the CTU has offered different ideas to raise money for pensions, as well as for Chicago schools. But, he says, the district ignores those union suggestions. Chicago school officials refused to speak with NPR today but in a statement say the district has taken steps in an effort to address the school's fiscal crisis, including this year cutting an extra $52 million from the central office. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.