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CTU President Karen Lewis Statement on Chicago School Board’s Doomsday Decisions

CTU Officers and community partners speak to reporters following the Board of Education’s vote.

“We are not surprised that an unelected, unaccountable school board would vote unanimously to continue the same failed policies that have short-changed Chicago Public Schools students for years.

“We are, however, disappointed that these Board members lacked the moral courage to do the right thing. This is a travesty and a betrayal of democracy.

“They are the status quo.

“The Board refuses to acknowledge its role in undermining our schools. By ignoring hundreds of hours of testimony of parents on how they never received the support they needed to strengthen their schools and increase student performance, they have created a huge gulf of ill will in our city.

“Despite the many protests, letters, demonstrations, testimonies, meetings, and pleas from thousands of parents, teachers, school leaders, activists, and members of the civil rights community, this seven member Board voted in its own self-interest, and not in the interest of over 7,000 school children—most of whom are black, brown, homeless, or poor. They don’t care about them or the neighborhoods they come from. All they see are data points and dollar signs.

“The courageous parents and others who have been loud and vocal over the last few weeks are not ‘anxious’ about what happens to their school—as Emanuel has stated—they are angry. They are angry that their community-driven schools are purposely starved of resources; and they are angry that their children are relegated to a second-class education in a school district that can do better.

“This is education apartheid. It seems that certain people in Chicago have no rights that this Board and this administration are bound to respect.

“If members of the Board possess a conscience, then they ought to be ashamed.

“Their unanimous vote will send over 400 teachers to the unemployment line.

“Their unanimous vote will force hundreds of kids to cross dangerous gang boundaries in order to get to school and put them at greater risk of violence.

“Their unanimous vote will disrupt the lives of parents who must now either move to locate a school closer to their home or rearrange their lives in efforts to get their children educated in schools as much as five miles away from home.

“These seven Board members voted unanimously to continue 17 years of failed school reforms that have left our neighborhood schools depleted of resources, depleted of tenured teachers and depleted of morale. It is not the teachers, parents, and community that have failed our students, it is this District.

“This is why Chicago is the epicenter of the nation’s education justice fight.

“The Chicago Teachers Union, Local School Council leaders, parents, education advocates and others will continue our education justice fight. This is why we will do everything we can to ensure State Senator Iris Martinez and State Representative Cynthia Soto’s moratorium legislation passes the IL General Assembly. We are looking forward to have our lawsuit, seeking injunctive relief heard in a court of law.

“We also intend to lead the charge for Chicago to have an elected school board. This District is the ONLY school district in the entire state that does not have an elected school board. This is undemocratic and unfair,” Lewis said.