CHICAGO — Former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Arne Duncan, never had the juice to run for Mayor of this great city. Yet, he clearly thinks he can influence how voters in the city vote in the upcoming election. As Vallas’s former partner-in-crime in destabilizing New Orleans’ public schools — through policies, actions, words and deeds — today’s endorsement of Vallas by former Education Secretary Duncan should not be a surprise.

Arne Duncan called Hurricane Katrina in 2005 “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans.”

At a panel yesterday about Paul Vallas’ record of failure in New Orleans, Dr. Ashonta Wyatt, a former New Orleans teacher and principal, explained how Duncan and Vallas took advantage of Hurricane Katrina to dismantle the public schools while the community was still recovering from the trauma of the storm. These education “reformers” “sold a bill of goods to my community by saying that they were going to help us recover,” but instead they “fired 7,500 veteran educators” and “privatized the public good that is education.”

While Chicago’s educators and school support personnel agree with Duncan on the urgency to reform the Chicago Police Department, they know there is a better candidate than Paul Vallas with the experience to get it done.

Under the leadership of individuals like Paul Vallas and Arne Duncan, Black, Brown, and vulnerable families throughout Chicago and the country have suffered greatly.

“Arne Duncan’s endorsement of Paul Vallas further validates that Brandon is better,” said Jitu Brown, People United for Action spokesperson and national public school organizer. “It’s not surprising that one man who ‘failed up’ all the way to the Department of Education would support Vallas, who has continued to ‘fail up’ despite disastrous results in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans.”

And with today’s endorsement, Duncan is forcing Chicago to press rewind to rewatch his legacy as CEO of CPS. While he likes to remember the period as a renaissance, the educators, students and parents who bore the brunt of Duncan’s “Renaissance 2010” program remember a period of school closings, increased standardized testing, disinvestment in Black and Brown school communities and the proliferation of unaccountable private charter schools.

Beyond that, during his time as education secretary, his “Race to the Top” program meant more students losing the race and more teachers being blamed as a result. Through onerous teacher evaluations, unfunded mandates and unreachable standards, educators, students and parents in Chicago and throughout the country were weighed down by policies set forth by an individual that never taught in the classroom a day in their life.

With plans to campaign for Vallas over the weekend throughout Chicago, CTU members hope that Duncan will take some time out of his schedule to visit some of the former school communities he was responsible for destroying, including Williams, Dodge and Terrell.

Now more than ever, we need a partner in City Hall willing to work with school communities to ensure smaller classes, adequate staffing for special and bilingual education and a school nurse in every school. Brandon Johnson is that candidate.

He is the educator-in-chief we need to take Chicago into the modern era — a leader who taught in the classroom instead of just talking about classrooms, like Vallas and his friend Arne.

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