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CTU, allies demand that DeVos, Emanuel end attacks on public schools

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) joins organizations aligned with the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) and its national counterpart, the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools (AROS), at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Chicago office of the U.S. Department of Education to send a clear message to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel that local public school allies continue to reject their privatization agenda.

While DeVos, President Donald Trump’s education secretary and billionaire heiress, tours the nation pushing vouchers and other privatization schemes, Emanuel spent months behind closed doors negotiating a “compromise” in Springfield after publicly claiming his opposition to using public funds for private institutions. A new school funding plan laden with a voucher incentive was pushed through the Illinois General Assembly by Emanuel and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in late August.

The message from parents, educators and allies is simple: Our children are not tax shelters for the rich. Chicago’s public school communities reject privatization schemes that continue to decimate and defund classrooms, and demand that local, state and federal officials fully fund public schools.  

“Emanuel, Rauner, Trump and their collective support of vouchers and private charter operations continue to create conditions that destabilize school communities serving Black and brown children,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. “So to push back, grassroots coalitions are forming across the nation to drive elected officials in both major political parties away from these devastating privatization policies.”

After the Wednesday protest, parents, teachers, community activists and students will deliver a letter to Trump appointee DeVos and Emanuel that condemns their refusal to tax the wealthy to support public schools. Protesters are demanding that both Emanuel and DeVos take meaningful steps to defend neighborhood schools and public education from vouchers and other privatization schemes.

GEM and AROS are coordinating similar actions at regional Department of Education offices across the country. GEM and the CTU also expect Emanuel to close scores of predominantly Black high schools this year as the five-year moratorium on school closings expires.

Chicago Teachers Union