Corruption and sexual assault scandals, school closings and labor unrest have created terrible headlines for Chicago Public Schools and terrible outcomes for its students. We have to get back to the basics and ensure that parents can trust their child’s school can provide an effective education in a clean, safe and responsive learning environment. This means a focus on transparency, accountability and neighborhood schools.

Neighborhood Schools

  • Strong schools attract families, drive population growth and boost the local economy. Many of the neighborhoods facing severe enrollment decline are also the neighborhoods that have failing economies, rampant crime and low numbers of homeowners. An emphasis on reinvesting in the neighborhood school as an anchor of the community will help confront these critical issues..
  • Chicago Public Schools need a long-term model that takes into account projected demographics and other trends when considering new school construction, consolidations or closings. Chicago needs a 10 – and 20-year citywide school plan.
  • Every neighborhood should have a viable public school option. With more than 130 charter schools in Chicago and roughly 75,000 students enrolled, charters have become the neighborhood school option for many communities. Because of this, charter schools should be required to abide by the same residency requirements and administrative pay regulations as traditional Chicago Public Schools.

School Board Reform

  • Chicago remains one of the only big cities in the country without elected representation on its school board. This must change. Parents and students deserve to have their voices heard in the decision-making process for initiatives and financial choices that directly impact students’ education and, ultimately, their future as productive Chicagoans.
  • I propose a 7-member board, constituted of one member elected from one of each six districts, and one member appointed by the mayor. The mayoral appointee must be a parent or guardian of a student that is enrolled in CPS at the time of the appointment.
  • A hybrid school board retains the benefits of both elected and appointed boards. Elected boards ensure the community has a voice at the table while an appointed board typically has a more conservative fiscal approach to decisions. Implementing a hybrid board will maintain accountability while ensuring transparency.

Student Safety

  • I would work with Springfield to enact legislation that mandates a sentence of no less than 20 years in prison for convictions of sexual assault of children by a person in a position of trust. I would also seek to remove the statute of limitation on sexual assault of children cases.
  • CPS must ensure that the process for reporting, investigating, and adjudicating claims of misconduct are free from conflicts of interest so that a fair process is maintained for CPS students, parents and staff.

Opportunity Classrooms

  • I propose establishing an opportunity classroom pilot program with students from Kindergarten through 3rd Grade divided in class sizes of eight. Students would remain in the same classroom with the same students and the same teacher during these years. This program will allow the teachers, students and parents to build a trusting relationship. With small class sizes the teacher will be better able to give the students the individualized support they need.

Vocational and Technical Education

  • Chicago must invest in the future of its students by creating diverse paths to success. CPS must be equipped to adequately prepare all students for their next step after school. As a city, we need to get back to the basics and provide students with the option to learn a trade or skill as a potential career after high school.
  • A sizable percentage of CPS students enter into careers after graduation that did not require a 4-year college degree, and with the current demand for skilled labor, Chicago must re-emphasize the importance of technical and vocational training. These training programs, in partnership with professional and trade unions, will help supply the next generation of workers that are needed to the fill current and future employment demands.

Extracurricular Activities

  • Chicago cannot continue to eliminate extracurricular activities. All Chicago students should be exposed to a variety of choices, from sports like rugby, wrestling, volleyball, football, basketball, soccer, hockey, boxing — to  music, theater, coding, debate and speech, chess, Model U.N. and student government. Extracurricular activities provide a balance to a student’s education and are directly linked to improved academic performance and attendance. To give Chicago public school students the opportunity to choose from a wide range of extracurricular activities, we must build upon partnerships with other city agencies, like the Park District and community non-profit organizations