As a former teacher, Brandon is passionate about making sure that every student in Chicago – regardless of their race, income or zip code – receives a fully resourced, supportive, safe and healthy learning environment. As mayor, he will work to expand sustainable community schools from pre-kindergarten to the City Colleges, providing academic, health and social support beyond the school day.
We are a decade removed from with the greatest closure of Black and Latinx schools in Chicago’s history. If we can build sustainable community schools alongside quality affordable housing, we will reverse the trend. We must also tackle the violence epidemic with more holistic measures that provide resources and trauma intervention for students and families.
Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Lori Lightfoot have both presided over precipitous declines in pre-kindergarten enrollment. This is not simply a result of demographic change, but the district moving to an online, centralized application process for preschool that is elitist and prejudiced against families with little access to technology. Enrollment also decreases due to poor program design. This is also evident in a number of special education crises – from State monitor to transportation – over the last 10 years.
School communities need direct investment, guarantees of staffing and program offerings. Every school should have a library and librarian, adequate clinicians and counselors, thriving arts offerings and sports programs and teams. And the mayor of Chicago has an obligation to be actively fighting in partnership for the revenue required to fulfill those basic needs for every school in the city, not just some.
If our city going to compete successfully in the 21st century, we need to ensure that our children, from every community, possess 21st century skills. We need to tie workforce development efforts into our schools, starting in the earliest grades, and help CPS to do its job by providing needed support around school safety, helping students traumatized by violence, expanding school-based health centers and improving access to technology. What we cannot do is cut City aid to schools as the current mayor is doing, and plans to do as we implement an elected school board. Then we need to work together to increase school funding and institute a fairer school funding formula.