New mayorally controlled board must immediately address critical needs in school communities, including ending discriminatory ‘student-based budgeting’.

CHICAGO—Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today in response to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s announcement of new appointments to the handpicked school board.

“Today’s announcement comes in the wake of another round of needless mass layoffs on Friday—part of a pattern of layoffs whose targets over the last decade have overwhelmingly been women of color who live in the very neighborhoods where they work. And once again, those most significantly impacted by those unnecessary layoffs are paraprofessionals—critical frontline staff who are already the lowest wage workers in our school communities.”

“At the same time, charter operators like CICS are also laying off workers, even though charter operators will again get an increase in funding next year, even as they continue to collect more per student than district-run schools.

“There is more funding for the district this year than last year, when CPS by its own admission was in much more stable financial shape than in previous years. Yet the old policies of austerity and privatization continue. This has got to change.

“CPS continues to be plagued by the chronic lack of transparency, accountability and democracy that underpins mayoral control—and it’s time for the mayor to keep her campaign promise for an elected representative school board.

“The new mayor had an opportunity in an historic legislative session to pass a bill with the grassroots coalition that has been advocating for an elected representatives school board for over a decade. Yet she refused, instead doing what Rahm Emanuel did for eight years: pushing Senate President John Cullerton to derail that legislation while refusing to engage with the very grassroots forces that have been fighting for this most basic democratic right.

Mayoral control of our schools is a failure. We need a board that is elected by the people and that works for the people. In the meantime, if this board is to be different than other handpicked boards of the past, it must immediately address critical needs in our school communities.

It must start work today with the grassroots coalition that has worked for an elected representative school board for over a decade, to at last get this done.

it must stop treating students like commodities instead of children with real needs, and immediately end the discriminatory ‘student-based budgeting’ scheme, instead funding each school community according to their needs.

It must immediately move resources into bilingual education, to bring staffing and access up to par with national standards and support a quality bilingual curriculum.

It must fund school nurses in every school, and fund wraparound supports for students in neighborhoods plagued by trauma and poverty.

It must take immediate steps to alleviate overcrowding in over 1,000 classrooms across the city.

It must fully fund the frontline clinicians our special needs students desperately need.

It must end the privatization of health care, janitorial services, facilities management and other critical frontline services, a privatization policy that has left our schools filthy and poorly maintained and shortchanged the health care and educational needs of our students.

It must ensure that every school has a library—with a librarian.

And it must move immediately to fill chronic vacancies for school social workers, who are in desperately short supply.

Most critically, Mayor Lightfoot must keep the promise she campaigned on for an elected representative school board—the promise that won her the trust of voters this spring.

In the meantime, the new board of education should start functioning like a truly independent board—and it should start by rescinding the unnecessary layoffs that Emanuel’s board imposed last Friday.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at