Chicago Sun-Times


Chico endorses Vallas, takes swipe at teachers union, which is backing Johnson

- BY FRAN SPIELMAN, CITY HALL REPORTER | @fspielman Contributi­ng: Pat Nabong

In 1995, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley seized control of Chicago Public Schools and asked his budget director and chief of staff to take charge of the school district.

On Friday, that “dream team” of Paul Vallas and Gery Chico reunited, to boost Vallas’ mayoral campaign and reclaim the narrative about their six-year partnershi­p at Chicago Public Schools.

Chico endorsed his former partner, who faces Cook County Commission­er and Chicago Teachers Union organizer Brandon Johnson in the April 4 runoff.

“We desperatel­y need to steer this city back in the right direction. ... He is, perhaps, the most prepared, the most qualified, the most dedicated person I have ever met to lead this city,” said Chico, who ran for mayor against Vallas and a dozen other candidates in a 2019 race won by Lori Lightfoot.

“There’s no one who knows more about how to run this city and what it takes to make every neighborho­od better and to make every neighborho­od safer than Paul Vallas. He has been preparing for this job, literally his entire life. And that’s exactly what Chicago needs in times like these. This is not the time for on-the-job training. This is not the time for untested people with unproven plans and no records. This city does not have that luxury.”

After singing Vallas’ praises, Chico took aim at a Chicago Teachers Union that has contribute­d $1 million to Johnson, along with hundreds of foot soldiers who helped get out the vote on Tuesday.

Chico branded as “terribly unfortunat­e” the turn that CTU leadership has taken over the last decade.

“We enjoyed two labor contracts where the parents in this city didn’t have to worry about whether or not schools would be open. And that’s why you had enrollment of 435,000 students. Today, you’re at barely above 300,000. People are voting with their feet. They’re upset,” Chico said.

Chico did not waver when asked about the growth of charter schools under his CPS partnershi­p with Vallas.

Nearly 60,000 students are enrolled


GERY CHICO, on why he is supporting Paul Vallas for mayor

in publicly funded charters “because their parents chose to go there,” Chico said, calling charters a small part of what he and Vallas did together at CPS.

“We invested across the board — mostly in neighborho­od schools.”

The CTU said Chico’s endorsemen­t of Vallas was “no surprise” considerin­g they are “cut from the same cloth — one that starved South and West Side schools and terminated Black female teachers with impunity.”

“Chico and Vallas adopted policies that banished veteran Black educators from the neighborho­od schools and set the stage for charter expansion that continued unabated until we finally organized the workers at those schools,” the CTU statement said.

“This practice had a ‘disparate impact’ on Black educators, resulting in a steep decline of Black teachers . ... The instabilit­y these two wrought on Black students, Black teachers and Black neighborho­od schools was unpreceden­ted and went largely unchecked. Many of our neighborho­od schools were ultimately closed because of their gross negligence and intentiona­l underfundi­ng.”

Vallas has infuriated the CTU by proposing that scores of schools now operating more than half-empty forge partnershi­ps with charters and parochial schools. He also wants to lengthen the school day and school year and use tax increment-financing surplus money to create a school voucher program. He prefers to call it a “scholarshi­p” program.

Neverthele­ss, Vallas plans to personally negotiate the next teachers contract if he’s elected mayor.

“This union leadership barely won reelection. That means there is a huge number of rank-and-file teachers who oppose the current leadership,” he said.

“I communicat­e to the rank-andfile. When you’re communicat­ing to the rank-and-file directly, your message doesn’t get misinterpr­eted.”

 ?? PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES ?? Gery Chico (right) endorsed Paul Vallas on Friday in the runoff for mayor.
PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES Gery Chico (right) endorsed Paul Vallas on Friday in the runoff for mayor.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States