A Vision for Tomorrow: Public Education
The greatest investment our city can make is in our young people. Before Toni Preckwinkle was an alderman, she was a history teacher in Chicago Public Schools. Her grandchildren are current Chicago Public School students.
One of Toni’s main goals as mayor would be making sure that all of our city’s children are receiving the best education available. We need to make sure that what’s possible for some of our children, is the reality for all of Chicago’s children.
"As mayor, I commit to a vision of our education system that values, listens, and represents the students and families of Chicago."
Fighting for an Elected School Board
Feeling valued goes hand in hand with being heard. Currently, Chicago is the only school district in Illinois, and the Chicago Board of Education currently is filled with corporate executives. Toni supports of an elected school board for Chicago Public Schools to make sure that every family in Chicago has a say in their child's education.
Instead of reducing class sizes, providing support for students with needs, and improving our aging physical infrastructure, a huge portion of taxpayer funds is pulled from the classroom in order to pay back the debt incurred by the Mayor’s appointed board. It is essential that Chicago has an elected school board that lessens the influence of special interests and outside money and ensures that communities have an opportunity to elect a representative that can adequately represent their needs.
Stopping School Closures
When we close a school, we are not just reallocating resources or addressing logistical challenges – we are making a public withdrawal of support from a community that already lacks critical resources and investment. Studies have shown that school closings actually widen the achievement gap between black and white students. Toni believes that it’s not enough to promise a temporary moratorium on school closings - we need to secure a long-term funding resource to help us make real investments in the schools that have been chronically underfunded.
In 2012, Mayor Emanuel diverted $29.5 million in property tax dollars from the public school system to subsidize the construction of River Point, an upscale office building at 444 W. Lake Street in the West Loop, one of Chicago's wealthiest neighborhoods. That is not investing in our children and in our future.
As mayor, Toni will make sure that every student in Chicago is invested in and valued.
Educating the Whole Child
The needs of Chicago’s students go beyond what is being taught in the classroom. Chicago Public Schools have too few nurses, social workers, and special ed teachers to serve students with physical and mental health needs. This is one of the reasons why Toni supports changes in the TIF program to dedicate yearly surplus to public schools. It’s not just enough to fund positions - our city must ensure consistency of care as too many nurses must oversee multiple schools and therefore students must rely on different professionals with different training, experience and familiarity.
Fairly and Equitably Funding Our Schools
The new formula aims to reduce the inequities in how we fund education and ensures that every child has the basic resources necessary for success. However, in order to properly fund education, Illinois needs to add an additional $7 billion to education funding; the new bill only commits to adding half of that over the course of the next 10 years. Without additional revenue, Illinois will be unable to live up our commitment to Chicago’s students. That’s why Toni supports passing a tax reform package that included progressive revenue that will allow the state to stabilize the pension debt systems and reduce the growth so that Illinois can afford to live up to its obligation to properly fund our schools.
Ending the Reliance on Charter Schools
Under the Emanuel administration, charters became the primary weapon for corporate privatization of education. It is time to stop the expansion and focus our efforts on how Chicago regulate these schools, their operations, and the manner in which they treat their students and teachers.
Toni will ensure the adoption of a fully elected representative school board and to help ensure their success, she will support a freeze on any new charter until the new board is elected.
Early Childhood Education
As an educator and mother, Toni knows how important childcare and early education are to students and working families alike. As both Alderman and Cook County Board President,Toni has always supported any policy that would support working families; including wage increase, paid leave, and other reforms. As Mayor, Toni will look for ways to expand high quality childcare and early education slots equitably across to the entire city until every family has affordable access.
That’s why Toni will develop a long-term plan to ensure universal access to early childhood education to meet the diverse needs of Chicago’s families. Toni believes we need to take a diverse approach leveraging public schools, community-based organizations, publicly-funded centers, and even smaller storefront and home-based centers alongside adequate funding and equitable access and quality. As Mayor, Toni will bring all the stakeholders together to design the best system we can possibly have.
As Mayor, Toni will look at ways we can increase the number of families who qualify for childcare subsidies to increase the number of the parents who can afford childcare for their children. The reality is that even the full-day pre-k schedule does not fully meet the childcare needs of working parents and community and home based child care must remain a valuable part of our communities to the meet the city’s needs.