And the Chicago public schools are desperately underfunded by the state.
This is misleading statement. The source of the funding is largely irrelevant (I understand that many states and the Feds often attach certain strings to funding that can be unproductive). What is important is the Chicago School District's actual funding.
How much do you think a chronically underfunded school district has to spend? Five? Six thousand dollars per pupil?
According to the district's own budget reporting the number is closer to "$10,555 operating expenditure per pupil."
And even that is a gross understatement.
The Chicago School District spends more than that. The $10,555 per pupil figure is for operating expenses (Operation Expenses Budget: $ 4.648 Billion ) . (It also seems to include about 31,759 extra students over the officially reported 408,601 student who attend schools in the district)
The total expenditures for Fiscal Year 2008 (full budget, p. 11: pdf) were actually $ 5.786 Billion. That means that the Chicago School District spent between $13,140 and $14,161 per pupil. (Depending on whether you count the 31,759 mystery students )
That's a lot of chicken now matter how you slice it.