Twists and turns on education in the Chicago mayoral race

As the winds of the mayoral election shift, it seems like every hour the candidates throw out a new idea to reinvent the landscape of education in Chicago.

A union poll cast county President Toni Preckwinkle ahead of other contenders in the race, and found that respondents’ favored candidates varied sharply by race. Read what else the poll found here.

Candidate Bill Daley, meanwhile, threw out two big ideas this week that would require significant overhauls of how the school system works, likely through new state legislation: to merge the $6 billion Chicago Public Schools with the $723 million City Colleges of Chicago and replace Local School Councils with 50 neighborhood councils. You can see Chalkbeat Chicago’s coverage of both plans here.

And at a mayoral forum on Thursday night, two candidates, state comptroller Susana Mendoza and former city police chief Garry McCarthy, committed to supporting an elected school board after previously saying they wanted the mayor to retain partial power to choose board members. We covered the forum.

We’re Cassie Walker Burke, Adeshina Emmanuel and Yana Kunichoff, and we round up Chicago education news every week — just for you. Please send any tips or story ideas our way: And support local journalism! Sign up for our newsletter, here, and share it with a friend.

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The Week in Review

New solutions: One answer to Illinois’ critical shortage of space and teachers in preschool may be hiring more men — particularly men of color. A new teacher training program, besides aiding classrooms, also addresses a dire need for training and jobs for men of color. Chalkbeat Chicago took a dive into the program.

Falling through the cracks: A Chicago high school teacher who has seen many students fail to learn to read writes about the misalignment of the Chicago school system, where students get a patchwork education within one school district. Read it at Chalkbeat Chicago.

A second chance for charters: 2018 ended on a sour note for some Chicago charter schools. While conditions may not improve this year for the independently operated public schools, there’s a glimmer of hope — the state charter commission, which has the power to green-light charters rejected by local school districts. Read our explainer on the commission, and what happens next for these charters, here.

An end to division in Springfield? The chair of the Senate education committee says the new governor could bring about an end to the “Chicago vs. everyone else” approach to schools in downstate politics. Get the scoop at Chalkbeat Chicago.

A database of school buildings: An analysis of schools released by the Chicago district labels 38 high schools as “underutilized,” meaning there are not enough students to fill the school or use the space well. Schools that receive this designation have been slated for closure in the past. Chalkbeat Chicago has a searchable database for you to check how full or empty your school is.

More schools, more students: Gery Chico has a proposal to solve the enrollment crisis: more schools. The mayoral candidate announced this week that, if elected, he would open eight new selective enrollment high schools and six vocational high schools. Read more from the Chicago Sun-Times.

Looking ahead

Mayoral forum: Whitney M. Young Magnet High School will host a student-run mayoral forum on Jan. 17 at 10 a.m. Toni Preckwinkle, Bill Daley, Paul Vallas, Garry McCarthy, Bob Fioretti, Susana Mendoza and Lori Lightfoot are all expected to attend.

Spotlight on student data: The next College and Career Task Force meeting will take place in Chicago on Jan. 14, from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Illinois State Board of Education offices in Chicago at 100 W. Randolph St.. We wrote about the commission’s most recent meeting this week.

Board meetings: The Illinois State Board of Education will meet on Jan. 16, and the next Chicago Board of Education meeting is Jan. 23.


The annual CPS All-City High School Senior Portfolio Exhibition, opened this week in partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is open to the public at 37 S. Wabash St. The artwork of more than 200 high school seniors from more than 40 CPS schools will be publicly displayed in the Loop until Sunday.