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Teachers Union: Voters Should Pick School Board

Chicago Public Schools

(Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – The head of the Chicago Teachers Union says voters – and not the mayor – should decide who runs the school district.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Nancy Harty reports, CTU president Karen Lewis says Chicago should do what all other Illinois school districts do – elect school board members – instead of having the mayor appoint them as he has done since 1995.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Nancy Harty Reports

Lewis says Mayor Richard M. Daley’s choices have failed students.

“The whole idea of CEO and the business mantra around schools has been, for kids, a disaster,” Lewis said.

Lewis says now is the time for parents, teachers and community members on the board instead of the current lawyers, bankers and doctors, whom Lewis says are out of touch.

“We’re getting a new mayor. We’re getting a whole new governance, so let’s do something different,” Lewis said.

Lewis says the board should be made up of 14 members instead of the current seven, and should be elected from different geographic areas of the city.

The mayor started revamping the Chicago Public Schools system 15 years ago. The then-Republican-led Illinois General Assembly gave Mayor Daley direct control of the school system in 1995.

The system was reorganized so it was led by a chief executive officer rather than a superintendent. The 1995 revamp also created a board of trustees that was appointed directly by the mayor, rather than an outside School Board Nominating Commission.

Among the many other changes in the 1995 legislation was a refocusing of resources on student achievement, and a pledge to ensure academic improvement through accountability councils.