• "Rauner, Did You Know? That budget cuts have left our schools a-bleeding?"
• "Rauner, Did You Know? That your stinginess keeps children from succeeding?"
• "Did You Know? Chicago Public Schools are in dire need? And with your veto of funding, you showed no humanity."
Hughes has a theater degree from Southern Illinois University and taught at Second City Training Center. She's currently working with The League of Improv Heroes, performing both in Chicago and suburban Oak Park.
In her video, a solemn Hughes wears a Santa hat, a blond wig and stands beside a lit Christmas tree.
The goal of her song is to encourage members of the Illinois House to override Rauner's veto of $215 million that CPS was counting on to ease its massive pension burden. The district based its current budget on the state funding coming to pass.
She also sings to Democratic leaders of the state House and Senate: "Mike Madigan and [John] Cullerton, we need your help as well. An override could make things right."
"CPS has been so cut to the bone. It's horrifying," Hughes said Friday. "If it [the funding] doesn't come through, we are going to see more cuts across the board."
Hughes is a member of the Local School Council at George F. Cassell Fine Arts School in Mount Greenwood and also frequently attends CPS board meetings. She's often heard advocating for funding for children with special needs.
Hughes is also on the board of Raise Your Hand, a student advocacy group for children in Chicago and throughout the state. It was this group that sparked the idea for the song, encouraging its members to contact lawmakers around the holidays.
The group had planned to sing several similar songs advocating for CPS funding at Rauner's house last weekend. But the caroling was called off because of the cold weather, said Hughes, who thus posted her song online.
"A lot of people don't even realize that budget cuts are coming in January," said Hughes, who hopes that her song helps to inform those unaware of the looming financial problems.
And who knows, perhaps her video somehow motivates Illinois lawmakers to override Rauner's veto, she said.
"If doing the video helps that [an override] happen, it was well worth two hours of my time," she said.
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