CHICAGO, September 4, 2018—Chicago Teachers Union President Karen GJ Lewis, NBCT, and Vice President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today in response to the announcement that Mayor Rahm Emanuel will not seek re-election.
“Rahm Emanuel came into the mayor’s office amidst a cloud of chaos and confusion, and now he exits Chicago’s political stage the same way. Today’s announcement is unbelievable, but welcome by so many Chicagoans who have demanded leadership that is willing to tackle the problems in our communities rather than destroy the people living in them.
“We have been saying for almost eight years that this mayor did not deserve this office, but we are perplexed as to why he would make the announcement on a day that should have focused on the return of our students to their schools. Today’s news has catapulted the public into a discussion cloaked in political intrigue, but part of that discussion must now be how critical it is that we elect a mayor who abandons Emanuel’s lethal, neoliberal policies and puts the city on a more just and equitable path.
“Chicagoans want an end to our un-elected, rubber stamp Chicago Board of Education, and the right to elect a representative school board that puts transparency, accountability and the needs of our students above all else. We demand an end to Rahm’s educational hunger games and his immoral student-based budgeting scheme, which treats every student like a dollar sign and denies our poorest students the opportunity to live up to their promise. We want a truly sustainable community school district—one modeled on the pilot program that our union embedded in our contract that will, at last, launch this fall. This model ensures that each student receives the supports and resources they need.
“We want an end to the crony contracts, profiteering privatization and apartheid-like educational policies that the incumbent has burdened our families with for the last eight years. Our city needs progressive revenue, and the rich must pay their fair share.
“I commend the tireless advocacy and activism of our union’s rank-and-file members, who have fought for the last eight years to expose the failures of this administration and demand better for our students, despite fears of retribution. Chicagoans face a momentous choice next February, and it is imperative that we hold all candidates’ feet to the fire to demand the schools that our students and their educators deserve.
“Why would Rahm voluntarily give up such incredible power? And, why so abruptly? Who knows? Who cares? We’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, actually. But while we acknowledge his service as a mayor and wish Rahm and his entire family well, it is our hope that in the final days of his administration, he chooses to leave our city in better shape than when he came into power. Chicagoans deserve better than the chaos we’ve had to endure for the last eight years.”