Thursday, November 14, 2019
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A wording discrepancy in Chicago mayoral campaign

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who trails Mayor Rahm Emanuel by about 16 points in polls for a runoff election in Chicago on April 7, may have embellished the story in terms of Mr Emanuel’s school funding moves, the Huffington Post reports.

Mr Garcia says in a recent ad that Mr Emanuel “took” money away from public schools in order to fund “elite private schools.”

For the record, charter schools, which are the schools that benefited from Mr Emanuel’s mass school closings, are neither “private” nor “elite.” They are run by private organizations, but they are publicly funded. They are open to all students, not just ones who come from rich families, and no tuition is charged.

Mr Garcia is not a fan of charter schools, to be sure, as he promises to impose a moratorium on the creation of charter schools in the city if he is elected. He correctly points out that many educators see charter schools as a step toward privatizing public education in the US. His campaign website lists the following education plans:

  • Halt school closings
  • Restore democracy with an elected school board
  • Pull the plug on high-stakes standardized testing
  • Stop starving public schools to feed charters

Although we support Mr Garcia’s campaign for mayor, mainly because of his plans for education, there’s no need to paint the mayor’s actions inaccurately. Mr Emanuel closed nearly 50 public neighborhood schools and replaced many of them with charters, some of which have succumbed to waste, fraud, and abuse.

As a Hispanic man, Mr Garcia correctly points out that “Chicago has shamefully allowed some charter schools to openly flout state requirements for many years by not offering necessary bilingual services.” This is indeed shameful and reflects poor management of charter schools in the city by a board of education completely appointed by the mayor.

We have every reason to believe—given the fact that many of Mr Emanuel’s biggest campaign contributors would benefit from real estate development in some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods that would include an expansion of charter schools—that the mismanagement will continue. All Mr Garcia has to do is paint an “accurate” picture of Mr Emanuel’s first term as mayor. That should be reason enough for people to make good decisions in the voting booth on April 7.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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