Chicago must provide quality education for all students. This job can only be accomplished with a qualified teacher in every classroom, manageable class size, and appropriate facilities. We should strive for policies to close the achievement gap for students from vulnerable populations, while at the same time offering challenges to gifted students.
Fully staffed schools provide needed student support. Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions. To this end, we must develop a comprehensive plan to attract and retain quality teachers. When possible, we also must encourage and incentivize good teachers to remain within their schools because consistent school communities lead to better outcomes for children.
In the 46th Ward, our existing public schools should thrive without the addition of new charter schools. As alderman, I pledge to pursue projects and/or grant assistance to enhance programs and grounds whenever possible. This includes community services and after school programs. Furthermore, we need to address the problem of student housing instability. Wrap around services for students should include the availability of mental health education and treatment when necessary. Moreover, safe streets and safe schools are a prerequisite for quality education.
Perhaps the greatest challenge–and opportunity–for Chicago public education’s future will be the elected school board to be phased in beginning next year. We need to inform and educate parents, neighbors, and stakeholders about the new 21 person elected board. The Mayor and the City Council must be transparent about the composition, role, and expectations for this new elected body in charge of education. The stakes are high as this new school board will play a critical role in charting a course for our children and in ensuring the long-term success of our city.