Voters overwhelmingly support CTU demands for more resources, revenue for neighborhood public schools, as Preckwinkle leads among likely voters.

CHICAGO—In a blistering rejection of Rahm Emanuel’s tenure as the CTU is poised to begin contract negotiations with his handpicked board of education, voters embrace the CTU’s educational justice agenda, according to poll results—and they want the next mayor to invest in public education and a livable city for people of all races and incomes. Those same voters rank Toni Preckwinkle highest among contenders to replace Emanuel.

Those poll results mirror the priorities of CTU members, who will submit contract proposals to the mayor and CPS officials on January 15, as the union prepares to bargain a new contract. Educators are demanding more investment in neighborhood public schools, more support for special education, smaller class sizes, wrap-around supports for students and families, better pay for low-paid paraprofessionals who anchor school communities, and support for the city’s working class and low-income families and their children. The CTU’s current contract with CPS expires on June 30, 2019.

“Rahm has starved Black and Latinx neighborhoods of investment, ignored the needs of South and West Side residents, handed public dollars to private corporations and slashed public services,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey. “These poll results show that voters reject that agenda. They stand with our union’s call for social and economic justice, and they want the next mayor to adopt that agenda.”

After years of devastating budget cuts to neighborhood public schools and an unprecedented series of school closings, voters overwhelmingly want to see the next mayor invest in public schools. This is a critical issue for voters—and a critical issue in the CTU’s upcoming contract fight.

“A majority of voters say both the city and CPS are on the wrong track,” said Sharkey. “Voters want wealthy corporations and individuals to pay their fair share of taxes, and they want a new mayor to prioritize the needs of Chicago’s working class families, including the Black and Latinx families whose children make up the vast majority of the city’s public school students.”

Voters also want the rich to pay their fair share of taxes, and reject Emanuel’s cancellation of the corporate head tax in embracing a new tax on big companies that pay workers low wages.

“This poll confirms strong public support for what this union is battling for—adequately funded schools, dignity for our teachers and paraprofessionals, safe communities, and a city that is livable and affordable for every Chicagoan, regardless of the color of their skin or the size of their wallet,” said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates.

More than six in ten voters view the CTU favorably—a number even higher than a Chicago Tribune poll comparing Emanuel to the CTU two years ago. That public support stands in stark contrast to voters’ unfavorable ratings of the City Council, the Board of Education, CPS—and Emanuel’s education record, which is viewed as just fair or poor by two-thirds of voters.

Voters also took a dim view of privately held, publicly financed charter operators, despite Emanuel’s constant promotion of education privatization. Voters look more favorably on the CTU’s charter school division, and those numbers go up among voters who have heard about the CTU’s historic strike against UNO/Acero in December—the first strike of a charter operator in the nation’s history.

Voters are also increasingly concerned about the growing divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ in Chicago. A majority say the next mayor should address the unequal concentration of wealth in downtown, the “push out” of working class Black and Latino families, and the need to address racial segregation in Chicago public schools.

“These numbers echo what we hear every day from parents and community residents,” said Davis Gates. “People want to live in a truly equitable city—and they want the next mayor to take up that challenge in our schools and in our neighborhoods.”

Voters are also hungry for progressive sources of new revenue. Almost three quarters support a millionaires’ income tax to generate more funding for Chicago public schools. Voters also solidly support a new tax on large corporations that pay their employees less than $12 an hour, recovering ‘toxic swap’ losses from big banks, and ending TIF giveaways to rich developers and corporations. Voters’ rejection of the use of public dollars for private profit is especially important as Emanuel attempts to muscle through the Lincoln Yards TIF before he leaves office.

The 2019 mayoral landscape

Preckwinkle led all candidates in support in the poll, and is also the top candidate who voters “think” will be the next mayor of Chicago, trailed by Daley and Mendoza.

The CTU’s elected House of Delegates voted to endorse Preckwinkle in early December. That endorsement was driven by her commitment to an elected, representative school board, a moratorium on school closures, an end to charter expansion, and progressive new revenue to adequately support neighborhood public schools that can truly function as sustainable community schools.

“We enter into this contract fight confident that Chicagoans want what our members want:  well resourced school communities where educators are respected,” said Davis Gates. “Our school communities have suffered under mayoral control. We will bargain hard starting this month for an agreement that provides the resources we need to fund the schools our students deserve—a goal that Preckwinkle has pledged to support and that voters overwhelmingly share.”

Lake Research Partners designed and administered the poll from December 11-16 by telephone using professional interviewers, reaching 600 likely 2019 municipal primary voters in Chicago, with a margin of error of +/- 4.0%. View the full results of the poll at this link.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 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