Hoping to capitalize on the upcoming change in leadership at City Hall, a coalition of Chicago teachers, community organizations, and parents are calling on the next mayor to cede control of the Chicago Public Schools.
At a news conference in Chicago yesterday, education advocates who argue that CPS is not improving quickly enough demanded a "fundamental change in school governance." Under their plan, which would require a change in state law, Chicago School Board members would not be appointed by the mayor's office. Rather, the board would be elected by voters. Of the 13 proposed seats, seven would be reserved for parents and community members (three from the South Side, two from the North Side, and two from the West Side) while six would be filled by education professionals. The current board, which Daley has controlled since 1995, consists of seven officials drawn from influential financial and consulting firms, none of whom have a background in education. This proposal comes on the heels of a push by the increasingly-assertive Chicago Teachers Union and its allies to ensure that the next appointed CPS CEO has experience in schools.
Three mayoral candidates -- Rahm Emanuel, Carol Moseley Braun, and Gery Chico -- expressed skepticism about the plan. Chico, who once served as Chicago Board of Education President under Mayor Richard Daley, said in a release that the change would "create 13 new politicians." Miguel Del Valle offered qualified support for the idea, so long as the city implements public financing of political campaigns to open up the election process. U.S. Rep. Danny Davis backs school board elections but is wary of mandating "what kind of people will be on a board." Expect this proposal to be a heavy topic of conversation in 2011.