Confirmed to attend: Toni Preckwinkle, Susana Mendoza, Lori Lightfoot, Amara Enyia, Paul Vallas.
CHICAGO—Rahm Emanuel’s disastrous eight-year agenda of mass school closings, privatization, gutted social services, vanishing affordable housing and failure to address gun violence and crime has decimated Chicago’s African American teaching force and forced tens of thousands of working-class Black and Brown families out of the city. As educators, progressives and working families continue to demand answers and relief from the next mayor, the Chicago Teachers Union and allies will host the electoral season’s first mayoral forum on Monday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at CTU headquarters, 1901 S. Carroll, in Chicago.
Mayoral candidates Toni Preckwinkle, Susan Mendoza, Amara Enyia, Lori Lightfoot and Paul Vallas are confirmed to attend the debate: “The Great Displacement: Building a Chicago for the Many, Not the Few”.
Besides the CTU, organizations sponsoring the forum include some of the region’s largest labor unions representing Black workers in the metro area. Sponsors include Action Now, ATU Local 308, Grassroots Illinois Action, National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 11, SEIU Healthcare Illinois/Indiana, UE Western Region and United Working Families.
“We have seen eight years of disappearing acts,” said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates. “We’ve seen our schools disappear, our jobs disappear, our social services disappear, and families in our communities continue to disappear. We intend to get specific answers from the candidates on how they will stop the vanishing tide that is ravaging the South and West Side under Rahm’s misleadership.”
The debate will put the issues of disinvestment and displacement of Chicago’s Black and Latinx families front and center in the mayoral campaign. Chicago’s next mayor has an historic opportunity to reverse decades of neo-liberal policies that have subsidized the interests of wealthy corporations and real estate developers at the expense of the city’s low-income communities—policies the CTU and its labor and community allies have been fighting.
Research overwhelmingly shows that students of color benefit immensely from being taught by Black educators. Instead, Emanuel has relentlessly closed schools, expanded charters that hire few Black educators, and imposed punitive student-based budgeting—all strategies that have destabilized schools and communities, exacerbated the push-out of Black families from the city and purged experienced Black teachers from Chicago’s public schools. The city’s Black teaching force has been slashed in half, to barely 20% of educators—a devastating loss of living wage incomes in Black neighborhoods and of Black advocacy for schoolchildren, who are overwhelmingly low-income and Black and Brown.
“Whoever takes charge of the fifth floor must address the rampant policy inequities that have displaced so many of our members, and slashed the earning potential of Black and Brown families throughout Chicago,” Davis Gates said. “There’s too much at stake — and every candidate must be put on notice: the real progressive community will not tolerate those who merely mimic but do not truly embrace the rhetoric of inclusion and democracy. We intend to organize and be extremely active in the municipal elections.”
Chicago’s union educators are demanding that the next mayor commit to a progressive policy agenda, realign the city’s funding and spending priorities and embrace a democratic, inclusive decision-making process on critical policy decisions. Monday’s forum is the first to tackle these issues, and is designed to set the stage for future public debates on issues of race and class that are critical to Chicago educators and families and the long-term sustainability of the city.
News outlets should contact the CTU’s Chris Geovanis directly to ensure access to our mult box, camera platform, stand-alone interviews and other press needs.