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The #RealRauner shows his true colors

4/15/2015

By Kenzo Shibata

I was recently chatting with a former student of mine, David, who is a youth organizer. He told me about a program he coordinates called 
Teen REACH(Responsibility, Education, Achievement, Caring, and Hope) at Morrill Elementary School in Chicago. The program is offered to all students, but 60% are there to improve their grades. Many of these students come to the program with failing grades, but for the past two years, 100% of students in the program graduate the 8th grade. The school credits the program with helping boost graduation rates overall from 50% to 80%.

I knew about these successes. Morrill’s reputation has vastly improved over the past few years since I taught at a high school that received some Morrill students. The school was able to transform itself without reforms like “Turnaround,” — a draconian program of the Chicago Public Schools that allows the district to fire every adult in a school building, forcing them to reapply for their jobs. Collaboration between students, teachers, administration, and after-school programs improved the school culture at Morrill.

Teen REACH is a program crucial to the school’s success.

David’s eyes lit up as he described the program, until the inevitable “but…”

“But the program can end immediately with the budget cuts Governor Rauner’s talking about,” David said.

Planning ahead, David and his colleagues started fundraising through aGoFundMe page. It’s a highly ambitious project to raise funds this way to fill a $60,000 budget gap, but David is a highly ambitious young man, which is why his presence in the lives of these youths is so important.

Perhaps if Governor Rauner met with David for coffee, he would not have gone ahead with his promise and cut off funding for the program as part of$26 million in cuts to state grants that fund crucial community programs.

Of course, perhaps if Governor Rauner sat and had coffee with a parent of a child with autism, he would not have cut off funding for autism on World Autism Day.

Maybe if he knew someone with mental health issues who couldn’t afford treatment, he wouldn’t have cut $82 million from mental health services.

Or maybe not.

The Carhartt-donned, rusted-van-driving, $18-watch-wearing “regular Joe” from the commercials was not the real Rauner — and now we’re seeing this first hand.

The “fiscally responsible guy you’d have a beer with” would rather these millions of dollars for crucial services go into the pockets of wealthy CEOs in the form of $100 million in tax credits.

A lot of voters wanted Rauner’s election to be a referendum on the state of Illinois government. Even with its inefficiencies and issues, government is not a business; it provides necessary services for everyone in the state.

Those who can afford it will have to pay out-of-pocket for these services, and those who can’t afford it will have to go without.

The Real Rauner’s plan will be more expensive for working families in spite of his anti-tax rhetoric.

He’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. Oh, and Paul happens to be a millionaire.

Governor Rauner claims that business will flee the state if his agenda isn’t enacted, which is a line that’s been repeated for as long as I can remember. I think people may flee the state once the services they need are taken away.

Rauner has the ability to stop these cuts and restore our crucial services. He also has an opportunity to increase revenue through a small surcharge on incomes over $1 million to help fund education.

There are so many options for him to choose, but the Real Rauner is showing his true colors — he wants to reward the rich with money he takes from the rest of us.

Take a minute to sign this petition to tell Rauner to stop this madness and put money back into the services we need to make Illinois a place where all people can thrive.

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