That’s an actual piece of a quote from Illinois Senate President John Cullerton. For a couple of days, my classmates and I got to go to the state’s capitol and diddy-bop in and out of Senate and House committee meetings and hunt down representatives and senators.
We had a good five-minute window to ask the Senate President a couple of questions. We talked actual politics but then, to wrap up, I asked Cullerton basically what does what Chance did mean for Illinois politics. Before I could get the question out, Cullerton says, “Chance the Rapper destroyed the Governor,” with a smile on his face and a slight chuckle. It was great that nearly 3.5 million kids on Twitter under the age of 25 were listening and watching when Chance told the governor of Illinois to do his job and fund Chicago Public Schools, Cullerton said.
“I bet that’s a day he wishes he could get back.”
What happened was this: Chance the Rapper donated one million dollars to Chicago Public Schools to fund art and enrichment programs as part of a larger funding plan to put a dent in the massive deficit the city has accrued over the years. Additionally, the rapper pledged 10K to ten schools in the district as well as continued funding via donations from his site and from his nonprofit, SocialWorks.
An entertainer met with a governor, wasn’t satisfied with the answers he got and took it upon himself to lead the charge in creating and demanding more funding for Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
Chance the Rapper is essentially crowdfunding CPS. Having just wrapped up a national tour and a three-Grammy grab and on the cusp of the next leg of his tour, Chance is using ticket sales, pledges and donations to fill the gap the state continues to not only leave undone but exacerbated year after year.
If nothing else, Chance’s one million dollar donation, made possible through the collaboration of LiveNation, AEG, TicketMaster and several individual promoters, is a call to action to athletes and entertainers nationwide to give to whatever pulls at them. For Gov. Rauner, it’s a clear fatality as it puts him and the state of Illinois on front street for not putting children first by not providing adequate and equal funding at both the elementary and secondary levels, and at the higher education level.
For a bit of background on the tangled web of Illinois’ state budget and deficit issues: In short, politics and mismanagement of funding is to blame. More specifically, the district’s woes include pension funding, school closures, etc. The governor nixed legislation that would have given CPS $215 million for bills and pension. So that I don’t accidentally lie, here are a few resources to help explain Chicago Public Schools’ money woes.
Also, the lovely reporters at @WBEZeducation do a great job of covering the city’s education issues.
Here’s what I’ve learned: The state has gone two years without a budget. A state budget allows appropriations or encumbrances to be made; the money must be set apart for use first, or else it costs more for taxpayers. Without a budget, agencies that actually help people go without funding. And, now, there are questions as to whether or not the state is headed for yet another year without a budget. Additionally, here’s a little look into the childish banter between Chicago’s mayor and Illinois’ governor.
It’s unclear how the donations will be used as Chance said they were for “arts and enrichment.” I’m sure more details will be ironed out as the donations continue to pour in; after all, you can’t help but trust the kid’s effort. The irony in the full circle motion of Chance giving back to the same system that suspended him for ten days is not lost on any of us, either.
Here is a look at the press conference where Chance announced his plan. Folks inclined to help can donate to the school district here. I assure you, the kids, their parents and their teachers would appreciate the support.