‘Illusion of Progress’ touted by CPS, Mayor
April 5, 2018

Dear Editor:

The illusion of ‘progress’ that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson touted recently at a City Club of Chicago luncheon is a far cry from the reality of what our members, and the parents and students they serve, experience every day. The mayor is still closing school buildings and pushing school choice, which makes him no different than incompetent U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Student-based budgeting—the enemy of our State’s new funding formula—remains a disaster, as our schools are still underfunded. And teachers, parents and students are forced to turn water into wine amidst the revolving door of district leadership, the assault on Black educators and students, and the ineptitude stemming from Central Office and Chicago’s City Hall.

Not to mention the irony of Aramark as a co-sponsor of that luncheon, despite being the poster company for school filth. We continue to receive numerous complaints from our members about health hazards due to poor janitorial and maintenance services, including outbreaks of mold at Morrill Elementary on the Southwest Side.

The ‘mayoral courage’ that Jackson spoke of is a myth. Courage is being a single parent of four working two jobs to make ends meet. Courage is leading an overcrowded, under-resourced classroom of children from low-income neighborhoods day after day, where school is but a respite from widespread violence on city streets. Courage is providing a sustainable community school for students who are overwhelmingly Black and brown in every neighborhood.

Chicago’s mayor is far from courageous, and whatever faith we had in CEO Jackson’s willingness to exhibit some independence and distance herself from her boss and her predecessor’s failed policies ended the minute the handpicked Chicago Board of Education voted to close National Teachers Academy and every public high school in Englewood.

When great stories come out of our schools, it is because our members, their students, and their students’ families and communities created them, yet sadly, you will rarely hear our city “leaders” give proper credit where it is due.

Make no mistake, Janice Jackson is not in charge of Chicago’s public schools—Rahm Emanuel is, and until that changes, our members and their school communities will suffer under mayoral control of public education. So we continue our call for an elected, representative school board, and an end to the silencing of parent voices by the mayor and his Springfield errand boy, Sen. John Cullerton.

Jesse Sharkey
Vice President
Chicago Teachers Union