Mayor Richard Daley on Tuesday railed against the Illinois General Assembly for inadequate funding of public education and attacked the federal government for budget cuts affecting Medicare and college loan programs during his annual state of the city address.
“If the General Assembly fails to meet its responsibility to our children and local taxpayers this year,” Daley said, “our schools will be forced to consider making cuts that could affect classroom learning or raising property taxes, neither of which anyone wants to do.”
Daley said despite gains by students in some standardized tests, while state and national scores remained flat, Chicago Public Schools’ average scores are still behind those of the rest of Illinois.
“Basically, there is a gap between our high school graduation standards and most college entrance standards, and that is a gap all of us have to close,” Daley said.
Daley reiterated his call to Springfield for funding of school construction projects and pension relief.
“Because the state has not provided new capital funding for the last two years, we’ve been forced to limit our capital spending to repairs and a few critically needed expansion projects,” Daley said.
In light of proposed cuts to the federal budget, Daley accused Washington of abandoning social policies that offer opportunity to the less privileged.
“In Washington, D.C. they approve huge tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest Americans while doing little for working people, except leaving huge deficits,” he said. “By cutting back on college loans, affordable housing and medical care for the poor, they are undermining opportunity instead of expanding it.”
Daley also called on the federal government to increase spending for tutoring under the No Child Left Behind Act. The mayor called for increased development of and access to high-speed Internet technology for all Chicago neighborhoods “by promoting a marketplace that meets this need.”
Daley also used his 42-minute speech also touted the city’s After School Matters program, which provides recreational and learning activities after school and during the summer for students wishing to apply.