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Another Emanuel fail on school cleanliness

Mayor’s school executives seek to bury report on eve of Independence Day holiday.

CHICAGO, July 3, 2018—CPS has run cleanliness inspections at just two-thirds of Chicago’s schools – and fully a quarter of those schools have failed inspections, according to CPS data released on the eve of the July 4 holiday, when little public focus is on school-related news.

CPS officials have refused to release copies of the new inspection reports for the schools, for a district in which 90% of students are Black or Brown and nearly 80% are low income.

“This is stark evidence of the ongoing failure of Emanuel’s privatization of school maintenance,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “Predictably, the mayor tried to sweep this evidence under the rug, as he does with every scandal in the schools he runs. Emanuel has done every wrong imaginable to our students -- even when it comes to the buildings they walk into to learn. His failed control of our schools must end.”

Last spring, in the wake of a groundswell of public outrage over filthy, vermin-infested schools, Emanuel made a token commitment to increase full-time custodial staff by 100 next fall – about a tenth of the staff that was cut when they mayor moved to privatize janitorial and facilities management services for CPS, and a fraction of what’s needed.

His school officials also promised that schools would be deep-cleaned by July 1 – but have now pushed that date back to no earlier than next fall.

Since Emanuel began privatizing CPS janitorial and maintenance services in 2012, CPS has forked over close to a billion dollars to Aramark and Sodexo for facilities maintenance. The companies have cut janitorial staff, with those remaining describing punishing workloads and shortages in cleaning supplies.

Despite the failure of janitorial privatization to date, Emanuel is now also privatizing school engineers, whose responsibilities include overseeing schools’ heating and cooling systems, which have also drawn vocal complaints from students and parents for years.

Chicago teachers and staff had the right to bargain to improve conditions in public schools until 1995, when the state legislature handed Chicago’s mayor total control over the school district and eliminated the CTU’s ability to bargain on non-economic issues like school cleanliness.

Emanuel’s ally, Senate President John Cullerton, has repeatedly stalled popular legislation to allow Chicagoans to elect their own school board, as every other district in the state does. The CTU has joined parents, students and neighborhood groups to demand a return to this most basic form of democracy as a way to infuse transparency and accountability into a school district that under mayoral control has been plagued with ethics violations, scandals in special education and sexual abuse, fat cat contracts that show no evidence of benefit to students, crumbling facilities and critical shortages of frontline staff, including counselors, social workers and school nurses.

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The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in schools funded by City of Chicago School District 299, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information, please visit the CTU website at

Chicago Teachers Union