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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot talks about what she learned from the fight against the teachers’ union

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I’m not going to speculate on what their motivations are, but I do not believe that is correct. I mean, if you look at their spending, there’s a clear indication of their greater ambitions.

What is what?

I think in the end, they not only want to take over Chicago Public Schools, but also take over the management of the city government. It will play out in time. I’m not really spending time, and certainly not in the midst of a pandemic, worrying about politics. But politics always intrudes.

I have noticed that some large cities with mayoral control of schools are open or in the direction of concrete reopening plans. And some big cities with school management, like Los Angeles or San Francisco or Seattle, look stuck. In the past, supported you in bringing back an elected school board. Where do you stand on it now?

We would never have opened up without mayoral control. This is very clear. The fact that LA and San Francisco had to sue to force the reopening conversation? Look, what is easy, the way of the least resistance, the political advantages, would have been to do nothing and let the unions just dictate what the state of affairs in education would be. This will never be the path I take.

For many families, it will be frustrating that this agreement paves the way for only part-time school. And also that high school students are not yet planning to return to classrooms at all.

I am very focused on reopening high schools. High schools are more complicated, as you can imagine. In primary schools, the pupils can remain static and make the teachers move. It is much more challenging to do so in a high school environment. But the archdiocese, which I believe is the largest private school system in the country, along with many other private schools, has opened high schools since September. There is a lot we can learn from their experience.

I especially want to see seniors get together again this year so they have a normal senior year experience.

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