In move that one teacher calls ‘Trumpish’, Lopez targets teachers in electioneering complaint after students ask him hard questions at aldermanic forums.
CHICAGO, March 20, 2019—15th Ward Alderman Ray Lopez takes a lot. He takes money from the GEO group, one of the largest prison detention groups in the nation — although he donated it after an outcry from immigrant rights advocates. He’s taken at least $40,000 from Rahm Emanuel in just the last six months alone. He’s taken political support from Ed Burke, who helped launch his aldermanic career. But he apparently can’t take tough questions in election forums — so he’s filed complaints against two teachers at two local high schools—Kelly and Back of the Yards—in the wake of student forums in which, by all accounts, he didn’t do so well.
The charge is electioneering. One teacher he singled out is BOTY teacher Jackson Potter, who’s called Lopez’ maneuver to threaten his job ‘Trumpian’. “My students asked the alderman tough questions, and his Trumpish response was to attack the messenger, just like the nation’s president,” said Potter, who worked with youth at the high school to organize a political debate in February. “He’s essentially telling our young people and their educators that the consequence of civic engagement is to be targeted for firing. That’s not just mean-spirited. That’s undemocratic.”
While Lopez may be against criticism of his aldermanic record, he’s for things, too. He’s for Emanuel’s cop academy, despite sweeping public objections and demands from both candidates to halt mayoral efforts to jam through the proposal. He’s for rushing through the deeply controversial Lincoln Yards handout, which will shovel $1.3 billion in public funds to a developer that doesn’t need the funds. He’s for blocking the “Bring Chicago Home” ordinance, designed to pump more funds into affordable housing.
“Lopez’ stunt sends a terrible message to young people,” said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates. “We live in a time where we need to support youth who want to ask tough questions about critical issues, from multi-generational disinvestment and Depression-era unemployment to the push-out of their families from the city they call home. This alderman wants instead to undercut our young people and their educators just to make sure he doesn’t have to take tough questions or be held accountable for his record.”
Teachers targeted by Lopez are waiting for CPS’ law department to issue a formal response to the alderman’s complaint — and hoping they don’t face dismissal for supporting their students’ right to ask tough questions and challenge Lopez’ support for a status quo that hurts their families and communities.