Then – 2011
Four years ago, Rahm Emanuel breezed past five other candidates, winning 55% of the vote to become Mayor of Chicago. Promising a longer school day and year, the new mayor immediately sparred with CTU President Karen Lewis, ultimately leading to a seven-day teachers’ strike.
Emanuel failed to avoid a runoff on Tuesday, receiving only 45% of the vote despite a huge campaign war chest and a Presidential endorsement. With significant backing from the Chicago Teachers Union, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia won 33% of the vote while criticizing the mayor over deeply unpopular education efforts, including shuttering 50 schools while expanding charter schools, laying off teachers, and opposing an elected school board. The mayor’s education platform for a second term, should he win, focuses on adding more specialty high schools, giving principals autonomy, and pushing the state to help fix funding. Garcia’s platform includes investing in neighborhood schools, a moratorium on charter schools, increasing teacher salaries, and reducing class sizes. Check out WBEZ’s Grading Rahm series.
The run-off election will be held April 7. Whoever wins will have his hands full on the schools front, with an ever-increasing pension and budget mess, declining enrollment, stagnant test scores and an expiring teachers union contract.
Related Story: The Race for City Hall (Catalyst In-Depth, Fall 2014)