Chicago teachers rally at state capitol for additional $1B in funding

Hundreds of Chicago teachers ditched their classrooms and headed to Springfield on Wednesday.

They're demanding an extra $1 billion in state funding for Chicago Public Schools. But are state lawmakers listening?

The demands are likely to fall on deaf ears. But we spoke with CPS CEO Pedro Martinez who has met with top lawmakers and appears to have some more modest requests.

"We're not asking to get in front of the line, we're not asking to get any special treatment," Martinez said.

A much smaller ask from Martinez. He acknowledges $1 billion won't happen this year, but there could be a few hundred million to help fund things like programs for migrant students.

On the migrant funding alone, we would get about $55 million, which would be a significant influx for our students," Martinez said.

A contingent of Chicago Teachers Union members took a paid day off today, traveling from Chicago to Springfield to ask for the entire $1 billion, saying the state has underfunded CPS for years.

"We demand because it was promised and our kids deserve it. We have to fund our schools, fully fund them with everything that we can," said Carrene Beverly-Bass, CPS teacher.

But suburban Republican lawmakers say the demands have not been well received.

"For Mayor Johnson and his minions in the teachers union to come down here to bully us and demand money they say they are owed is absolutely outrageous," said State Sen. Don DeWitte, R-St Charles.

"They decided to be in Springfield today instead of the classroom. I support teachers, but that's a problem," said State Sen. Seth Lewis, R-Carol Stream.

Martinez says the day off will not harm students in the classroom.

"I was so heartened to see our teachers here with me because again, they want to share their stories," Martinez said.

The teachers’ visit follows Mayor Brandon Johnson's trip from last week. Governor JB Pritzker and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have shown no indication $1 billion is ever going to happen.