Dear Mayor Lightfoot,
When you ran for mayor, you gave Chicago’s students, parents and teachers hope that you would reverse many years of failed education initiatives and poor policy decisions pursued by those who came before you.
You spoke of expanding access to childcare and support services. You talked about the importance of early childhood education starting from birth. And you pledged that you would back an elected representative school board to replace the bankrupt system of mayoral control of the schools.
But it’s important—in life and even more so in politics—to judge people not just by what they say but crucially by what they do.
So we are frustrated that you dismissed as “unwieldy” a law passed by the Illinois House two days after your election that would have created an elected representative school board. And as Chicago’s teachers are looking to secure a new labor contract before the start of school in September 2019, we are perplexed by the presence of many CPS negotiators at the bargaining table who were appointed by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former Mayor Richard Daley, and former Governor Bruce Rauner.
These are the very same people who systematically starved our schools of resources, created the special education crisis, allowed class sizes to balloon, and shortchanged paraprofessionals and whole communities. These problems have landed disproportionately on the most vulnerable among us, in particular women, Black and Latinx educators and families.
This contract has the potential to be an important milestone in the history of Chicago’s public education system. So how do you expect to make a break with what you consider the failures of your predecessors if you turn to the same people to negotiate this contract?
You have the power to end years of bad educational policy and support CTU demands for real equity for students and their educators.
You can start by telling CPS’ bargaining committee to stand by the progressive positions you’ve taken, embrace our progressive positions where you’ve been silent—and finally bargain a contract that works for the children of this city and the educators who steward their futures.
Chicago Teachers Union
“You have the power to end years of bad education decisions by Chicago leaders. We call on you to instruct CPS’ bargaining committee to stand by the progressive positions you’ve taken and to embrace our progressive positions where you’ve been silent. Now is the time to back up rhetoric with action.”