Grammy award-winning Chance the Rapper knows that Chicago’s public school children are in need of a boost and has taken matters into his own hands. Chance recently announced that he’ll be giving $1 million to Chicago’s public schools for arts and education funding. Chance, a Chicago native, made the move after his meeting with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to discuss the threats facing Chicago’s public schools.
The big problem that Chance was aiming to find a solution for concerns a $129 million CPS budget deficit, that was created when the governor vetoed a bill that would have helped the school district pay its pension bill. The deficit could force school officials to end the school year 20 days early on June 1, thus cutting short children’s education. The CPS is the 4th largest public school system in the United States, yet it remains one of the most underfunded.
After the meeting with Governor Rauner didn’t make much progress, the rapper voiced his frustrations to the media, and proclaimed that he wasn’t giving up. “I felt it went a little bit different than it should have,” Chance told local news outlets. “I’m here because I just want people to do their jobs.”
Chance – born Chancelor Bennett – said that Chicago’s school children “were on the table” and that the governor gave him a lot of “vague answers” when asked about the problems and possible solutions during their 30-minute meeting. The Chicago Tribune reported that the bill was vetoed by Rauner “because it was not tied to broader pension reforms that he has demanded, and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton denied assurances on pension reform were part of the CPS deal.”
Rather than just sit on his hands, Chance pledged a $1 million to donation to Chicago’s schools — through the Chicago Public Schools Foundation — with the proceeds coming from his spring tour supporting his latest album Coloring Book, which kicks off April 24. The gesture and support for Chicago’s public school children drew praise from former First Lady Michelle Obama, who mentioned the move of goodwill on Twitter.
The rapper isn’t just sending his own money CPS’s way, but has called on Chicago’s upper class to help out as well. He has pledged that for every $100,000 raised through Social Works Chicago — he is co-founder — he’ll donate $10,000 directly to Chicago Public Schools.
Regarding Governor Rauner’s views on the meeting, he said they had a good exchange and agreed to talk further. “I hope we can come to a good solution”, said Rauner. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we can.” The Governor did not respond directly to Chance’s pledge, but his office was quick to remind the media that he and his wife have donated more than $7 million over the past two decades to organizations supporting CPS students.
It’s not just Chicago’s public school system that’s currently treading water. Newly appointed Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has refused to pledge to maintain public funding for public schools. Most recently, Bill 610 – introduced by Representative Steve King of Iowa – is posed to be the possible first repeal of public education funding under DeVos’ rule.
Bill 610 would take federal funds allotted for public education and dole them out with a voucher program, allowing parents to choose to send their child to a private school or home school them, instead of keeping them in the public school system. DeVos, whose children did not attend public school, has been a strong proponent for “school choice” and is among those who argue that the voucher system – which work in a similar way as scholarships – allows children to receive help from the state to attend a better school. The downside is that when public schools begin to lose students, they also lose funding, which makes it more difficult to improve and hinders the children who do attend the public school.
DeVos hasn’t yet made a public statement on Bill 610 and it still needs to go through Congress to pass, but if it does, Chicago’s public schools could be in serious trouble.