Lightfoot’s willingness to embrace worst predators in public school space underscores her unfitness for office.
CHICAGO, March 14, 2019—Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today in wake of the announcement that public education privatizers Paul Vallas and Gery Chico have endorsed Lori Lightfoot for mayor.
“Gery Chico and Paul Vallas support Lightfoot for one reason: because they believe they can do business with her. The political clout that put them all on a path into the public sector is the same – Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. He gave Lightfoot her first political appointment just as he gave Chico his first taste of machine political power as his deputy chief of staff and then chief of staff. It was Daley who brought in Vallas to impose school privatization and corporate profiteering in CPS. It was Vallas and Chico who worked in lockstep to advance Daley’s corporate privatization agenda across the landscape of our public schools. That agenda began the purging of our Black teachers and veteran teachers, the exploitation of CPS as a political tool of the mayor, and a series of ‘turnarounds’ and school closings that have devastated Black and Brown neighborhoods across Chicago’s South and West Sides.
“There are few people in the history of Chicago’s public schools who have done as much harm as Gery Chico and Paul Vallas, who together set the stage for massive unfunded charter expansion, crony corporate deals in CPS that have left our schools filthy and our students underserved, and the chronic underfunding of educators’ hard-earned pensions.
“As CPS’ top bosses, Chico and Vallas set in motion the chronic underfunding of educators’ pensions, by low-balling payments to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund – and in some years making no payments at all. Now Lightfoot has floated the possibility of abandoning pensions for public workers like teachers – music to the ears not just of corporate tools like Chico and Vallas but to Rahm Emanuel’s investment banker backers. Lightfoot’s most recent ‘plan’ for our schools is to park 38 satellite police training academies in 38 closed schools in our most disinvested Black and Brown neighborhoods. That’s not an investment. That’s an occupation. Just as Vallas and Chico served as tools for the occupation and dismemberment of our public schools, we can expect their candidate Lightfoot to extend Daley’s and Emanuel’s disastrous policies of repression, disinvestment and racist neglect. We don’t need another Daley. We don’t need another Emanuel.”