Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s outgoing CPS leadership team publicly confirmed today that it is dismantling the Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL), the district’s largest turnaround school network. Beginning in 2006, turnaround actions across the South and West sides of Chicago led to a sweeping purge of Black educators under the guise of “failing” schools, when in reality, mayoral control of CPS had long starved these school communities of resources needed to thrive.
Our beloved Karen Lewis led the charge to fight these racist purges when she became president of our union in 2010. The following year, we filed suit in federal court against CPS for violating the civil rights of displaced Black educators. The district fought for a decade to derail this case until a judge ruled this spring that without a settlement, the suit would proceed to trial.
None of this happens without educators’ vocal opposition to turnaround actions, and coalition and community support for the brave plaintiffs in our lawsuit, which have pushed CPS to tacitly end this practice. The same can be said about broad opposition among parents, students and traditional, neighborhood public school communities to uncontrolled charter expansion, which has helped stall school privatization in recent years.
We will continue our work to dismantle racist metrics — now branded SQRP by CPS — even as the mayor’s handpicked Board of Education lets these policies fester. We will continue to push the state legislature to give Chicagoans what residents in every other school district in the state have — the right to a fully elected school boardthat will not rubber stamp the racism of the past. We will continue to fight, and we will continue to win.
Unity and commitment to creating a truly sustainable community school district is what moves our struggle forward. Educators’ work is anchored in the fight for the schools our students deserve, and the right to recovery for every CPS student and family.
Our mission remains to reverse the harm of racist policies like turnarounds, and move our bosses to provide school communities the resources required to support every student’s needs.