David looks on as public officials tour classrooms at Hawthorne Scholastic Academy while CPS continues its reopening plans in the Lake View neighborhood on March 1, 2021. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — Chicago voters will head to the polls Feb. 28 to vote for a new mayor.

There are nine candidates on the ballot, and if nobody gets more than 50 percent, the top two will head to a runoff April 4. The winner will be the last mayor to have control of Chicago Public Schools before the district transitions to being governed by an elected school board

Once elected, the new or returning mayor will appoint a school district CEO and seven school board members to oversee the nation’s fourth largest school district, its $9.5 billion budget, 635 schools, and the education of 322,000 children.  

All nine candidates come to the race with varying experience in education. To better understand how each one would tackle the challenges facing Chicago Public Schools, Chalkbeat asked each candidate the same ten questions — some of which came directly from our readers. 

Readers can find the candidates’ answers below.

Chicago Public Schools is no longer the nation’s third largest school district after a decade of enrollment decline. The loss of students has had significant impacts on neighborhood high schools in particular. How will you address declining enrollment?

Kam BucknerWith key leadership changes and strategic investments, Chicago’s public education system can be a valuable tool to bridge equity gaps that have plagued our city for generations. If we want students to enroll in our schools, they must be best in class. We need to work with Springfield to make sure that our schools receive funding based on need, not based on criteria that have only perpetuated inequities. I’ve led this fight in Springfield as a sponsor on HB 258, which seeks to create a more equitable funding formula for our schools.

I would work with ISBE to accommodate factors such as generational trauma and poverty in the funding formula. We need to empower our Principals to create and foster thriving school communities. When students leave our district schools, CPS should be holding “exit interviews” with their families to understand their reasons for leaving and find a way to do better. This data is priceless, and can give us the tools we need to buck these trends. We also need to give schools sufficient resources to manage day-to-day student needs, which I outline in my comprehensive education plan.
Jesús “Chuy” GarcíaThe sharp decline in student enrollment since the early 2000s has financial and organizational consequences for CPS, but it is a mistake to see this a schools-only problem only. The declines in enrollment track the declines in population. We’ve already talked about my public safety plan. Separately, we can talk about inclusive economic development, community reinvestment, and how we bring capital and people to Chicago. To start, CPS has to find and re-engage with the students they lost during the pandemic. I cannot overemphasize this point: those children need our help. They are vulnerable. We need to find them. We need to bring them back into the system and provide all the support they need to get back on track. To do this we need the proper administrative support, social services resources, and mental health staff in our schools to re-engage and retain our students. Every school needs to be welcoming and appropriately connected with the community it serves. That should take a variety of forms: staying open after school for community,offering classes for adults, to better learning, after-school activities, and athletic options. We won’t grow enrollments unless Chicago is a healthy, safe, competitive city— in all neighborhoods.
Ja’Mal GreenI believe that we address enrollment in two ways. We must work to build a city that families want to stay and raise their children in, and fight to ensure the education we provide is high quality and comprehensive, so families within the city feel confident sending their children to CPS schools.
Brandon JohnsonIf you recall, that decade began in 2013 with the greatest closure of Black and Latinx schools in Chicago’s history. If we can build sustainable community schools alongside quality affordable housing, we will reverse the trend. We must also tackle the violence epidemic with more holistic measures that provide resources and trauma intervention for students and families.
Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Lori Lightfoot have both presided over precipitous declines in pre-kindergarten enrollment. This is not simply a result of demographic change, but the district moving to an online, centralized application process for preschool that is elitist and prejudiced against families with little access to technology. Enrollment also decreases due to poor program design. This is also evident in a number of special education crises – from State monitor to transportation – over the last 10 years. Schools communities need direct investment, guarantees of staffing and program offerings. Every school should have a library and librarian, adequate clinicians and counselors, thriving arts offerings and sports programs and teams. And the mayor of Chicago has an obligation to be actively fighting in partnership for the revenue required to fulfill those basic needs for every school in the city, not just some.
Sophia KingWe have to grow as a city in order to improve and sustain our neighborhoods. In order to attract and retain people in our city we need safety and good schools. People will not stay in Chicago or come to Chicago if they do not feel safe or have good schools to send their kids. We can grow the school population by putting resources into existing schools and increasing the growth of selective enrollment school options, however, with a strong neighborhood component. We see that good neighborhood schools attract population. Before the anticipated new South Loop high school has even been built, it is already over subscribed – the same with Bronzeville classical. People want good schools in which to send their kids. This has to be coupled with increased housing stock and strong neighborhood corridors. I will seek to increase the overall population in the city by incentivizing growth downtown and in our neighborhoods. I will give incentives to our essential workers like teachers, police and fire to relocate to our neighborhoods. We can use no interest loans backed by city bonds for essential workers that buy, build or rehab housing in the neighborhoods. We will also seek to engage more students targeting seventh and eight graders before they become disengaged in order to mitigate the attrition that occurs before high school thus increasing enrollment and per capita income. One estimate puts the number of dropouts in Chicago between the ages of 15 and 20 at 40,000. Bringing back just a fraction of those young people can increase enrollment and mean millions in federal funding to CPS (approximately 1,200/pupil).
Lori LightfootDeclining enrollment is a serious concern, and it has been largely driven by population declines in majority Black South and West Side neighborhoods following decades of disinvestment. Reversing declining enrollment cannot be accomplished by CPS alone—it requires the public and private sectors working together to marshal resources into these neighborhoods to expand economic opportunity, improve public safety, and invest in schools. That’s why CPS’ 2023 budget includes more than $600 million in investments for facility improvements at neighborhood schools, upgrades to technology, investments in new academic programming, and more. That’s also why we’re prioritizing initiatives like our $2.2 billion INVEST South/West program and our $1 billion affordable housing investment. Additionally, I have heard from parents across the city that they need stability. Many parents have opted to leave CPS for either the suburbs or other school systems within Chicago when they have felt like they cannot depend on CPS being open and available for their children, which undermines CPS and all it aspires to accomplish on behalf of students. We should all be able to agree that we must continue to create a safe, nurturing in-person environment for our students, and to center student and parent voices and concerns.
Roderick SawyerDeclining enrollment is a symptom of a sick city – but we need to address the symptom as we fix the root cause. CPS spends far too much money on administration, overhead and costs that have little or nothing to do with educating our children. First, we have to take immediate action to stem the loss by addressing the issues driving families out of our neighborhoods. Right now that means making our marginalized communities safer and creating job opportunities to keep families – Black families, in particular – from fleeing Chicago. Then we have to reduce waste in CPS, a system in which only about 60% of the revenue goes to educating students. It’s imperative we do this before cutting the system loose under a representative, elected school board because it needs to be solvent to start this new chapter. We spend nearly $30,000 per student, just about the most of any city in the nation. And the results are poor. Then we have to fundamentally re-invent how we educate children in Chicago. A World Class city needs a World Class educational system.
Paul VallasMaking the schools more attractive to parents by allowing for schools to take on specialties as well as bring back the work study program for high school students. We must also make our schools safe, so students feel comfortable in their learning environment. We must also have the dollars make it down to the school level, right now only 60% of the budget makes it to the schools. In my career I have worked to make education meaningful to students allowing a greater trust in the system by not only the students but also their parents. I would also expand the alternative schools network to provide for the educational needs for high school students too old for the traditional high school program.
Willie WilsonI will make our neighborhoods safer and reduce taxes. People are leaving Chicago in large numbers because of crime and taxes. Also, I will work with parents, teachers, and key stakeholders in those communities with low enrollment to determine ways to enhance the schools and enrollment.

What are your plans to address learning loss and social emotional gaps that have emerged during the past three years of the COVID pandemic?

Kam BucknerWe need to focus on proactively improving learning. Students were impacted by loss of traditional instruction and that’s the piece we need to bring back. While we can’t make up for lost time, we can find ways to keep students engaged, excited, and prepared for their next steps. We need to invest in more after-school curriculum, adaptive technology, tutoring and mentoring programs, sports and the arts. And we need to use the data available to us to measure progress and adapt as needed. I’m also committed to ensuring that schools have the staffing they need to support students. Every school should have at least one nurse, one librarian, and one social worker. These supports are critical for the health and safety of communities, and it’s time we prioritize funding in CPS’ budget to allow our schools to fully support the health and wellbeing of our students.
Jesús “Chuy” GarcíaWe cannot fix a problem we refuse to see. In my own community of Little Village, I saw the impact of COVID first hand. The teachers we lost. The students who fell behind, and the students who fell completely away. Across our city, school closures and learning loss have been hard on students, especially Black and Latino students. COVID exacerbated existing racial disparities in education outcomes and disparities for children with disabilities. These are our children. We must reconnect with them.
• CPS needs to find the students who have fallen out of enrollment. Each of these students needs an individual support plan that addresses their successful return.
• CPS needs proper resources, socioemotional as well as academic, to help these young people be successful.
• We need to understand the impact COVID had on families, and I intend to provide mental health services in every community to help families recover. This requires collaboration rather than competition with Cook County.
• To increase necessary funding streams, will be making the case in Springfield to accelerate the timeline to fully fund the EBFF.
Ja’Mal GreenThe learning loss and social-emotional gaps that have emerged in the past 3 years are a tragic casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. My administration would work with experts on education, psychology, and neurological development, and determine the solution that would benefit students the most. As someone who had trouble learning in school myself, I recognize that every child learns differently, and am committed to ensuring students have the resources needed to succeed by meeting their individual needs.
Brandon JonhsonLet’s remember that students and families are still struggling with the pandemic, and there is much trauma and recovery that must occur – especially among Black and Brown students and families who make up the majority of CPS students (like my own). First, we must address the trauma that existed pre-pandemic, and acknowledge that COVID-19 exposed and exacerbated conditions around cleanliness, bilingual education, access to technology, special education services and more, that city leaders left unaddressed for decades. Asking a student to catch up on math when they are still recovering from the death of a loved one, or a classmate, is inhumane. Students and families must have trauma support, such as weekly cognitive behavioral therapy, and students need summer jobs and engaging programming. Support student and staff mental health by infusing schools with mental health professionals like counselors and clinicians so that unaddressed trauma is acknowledged, and treated, and learning is more of the focus from day to day. Teachers and staff need adequate time and professional development to help address student needs. And educators need to be empowered with planning time to reinvigorate curriculum and work with students to ensure instructional practices and pedagogy meet students’ needs and interests.
Sophia KingTo help our students recover from the impacts of the pandemic both academically and emotionally, we need to provide the support they need. This includes extended post school support including one-on-one help and in-person tutoring along with other co-curricular activities. We also have to have more counselors and mental health clinicians to take care of their emotional needs We can recruit former teachers, and aspiring teachers from our surrounding colleges to help support the demand.
Lori LightfootWe’re prioritizing the academic and social-emotional needs of students, families and staff. This year’s CPS budget includes over $188 million to support our students’ academic recoveries and social and emotional learning. This includes $30 million for summer school programming; $20 million for out-of-school time programming; $20 million for our tutor corps; $40 million for new technology devices for students and staff; $13 million for mental health supports and trauma-informed interventions; $12 million for student and family re-engagement, home visits, and truancy prevention; $5 million for a universal social and emotional learning curriculum; $5 million for early literacy resourcing; and more. Compared to last year, this year’s budget includes a $45 million increase for special education; a $42 million increase for district-funded teacher positions; a $14 million increase in equity grants for smaller schools; a $10 million increase for early childhood education; and a $10 million increase for district-funded counselors, support staff for students facing housing instability or homelessness, and bilingual education coordinators. We’re providing an additional $45 million to improve classroom instruction and $20 million in aid for Chicago’s most vulnerable students as part of the Chicago Recovery Plan (on top of existing CPS support).
Roderick SawyerWe still don’t know all the ramifications COVID had, but we know it’s significant and may get worse. We have to create several priorities:
1. Immediately increase the number of counselors available to CPS so they can assess the needs of these children and design specific recovery programs. These programs would focus not only on making up for the missed education – improving math and reading abilities, for example- but also on ways to address the social and emotional growth opportunities missed.
2. Make our schools robust community centers open all day and all year. Schools should be open into the evenings and on weekends for athletic organizations, social clubs and community groups. They should offer programs that assist children in other learning and life experiences, continuing education and job training programs for adults. When we reset / reinvent CPS, we must understand that one counselor for every 444 students is nowhere near enough to address the needs of students – not in the best of times, certainly not when making up for lost time. Adding counselors and other crucial support staff to our schools would be among my highest priorities to get us not only to the recommended level of one for every 250 students, but beyond it.
Paul VallasThe loss of learning due to the COVID pandemic has been unprecedented. We must work to ensure that our children catch up and can be competitive in their future. In order to meet the gap our children are facing I will open all school buildings through the dinner hour, weekends and summers. We need to invite community organizations to provide enrichment to students in the CPS during these off hours as well as invite retired CPS Teachers to provide tutoring and academic support to the students.
Willie WilsonThe schools were closed too long, and this hurt our children. We need to offer after school curriculum to help those students that may have fallen behind. Also, if warranted open schools on Saturday’s to help our students. I would engage parents, teachers, and key stakeholders to fix this issue. Also, provide mental health counseling in our schools.

The Chicago Board of Education will expand from 7 appointed members to 21 elected officials over the next four years. How will you ensure parents, students, and teachers are fairly represented on the new school board? And how will you work with the elected board?

Kam BucknerChampioning the Elected Representative School Board in Springfield and getting that bill across the finish line is one of the things I’m most proud of as a State Legislator. I will work with the ERSB like I would work with any other partner – I will treat them as experts in their area and I will consult them on decisions that will impact Chicago Public Schools. Before the board is fully elected, it will be a hybrid board, which I fought for to help us prepare for these changes. As Mayor, I’ll select 11 board members who have proven they’re committed to working for kids in our schools and look like the school district they serve. That could be LSC members, people who have worked in the education space, parents of CPS students, people with a vested interest in the district, and people with experience in growing enrollment. Ultimately, I’m committed to making sure that we bring in individuals who will be working to bring the best outcomes for our young people.
Jesús “Chuy” GarcíaI support an elected school board and will ensure a smooth transition from mayoral control during my tenure. An elected school board will bring even more parent and community input. Still, the reforms as enacted can and should be improved. The expanded board as planned is larger than it needs to be, and the law should allow non-citizens taxpayers to vote so every parent gets a say in their child’s education. I’ll work with legislators in Springfield to address those issues and ensure the law is reformed so that non-citizen parents and returning residents who are parents are able to vote for the elected school board (just as they’re already able to vote in local school council elections). The original bill sponsors assured critics that a trailer bill would follow to provide guardrails for campaign finance and ensure parent/community member representatives. However, NO such trailer bill has yet been drafted or presented. I’ll work with the General Assembly to make sure a trailer bill is presented shortly after I take office. As Mayor, I expect that CPS will begin the planning process for ensuring that newly elected school board members are brought up to speed regarding the budget/operations of CPS.
Ja’Mal GreenI believe the transition to an elected school board is a triumph for Chicago Public School students, representing an important expansion of democracy. I will work with the elected board hand-in-hand, with the understanding that we are each responsible to the people of Chicago. The power imbalance of the appointed school board – one quasi-controlled by the mayor – will end.
Brandon JohnsonI support a map that ensures all communities in this tremendously diverse city have the opportunity to have their voices heard. This is why I worked so closely with Illinois Senate President Don Harmon and community organizations on the legislation to create this vibrant model of democracy for the first time ever in the history of Chicago Public Schools. We need campaign finance rules to prevent those with no stake in our public schools, or our communities, from controlling our democracy. We cannot have uber rich, arch-conservatives usurping the power that working people in Chicago fought so hard to win. We need candidates who are deeply invested and knowledgeable from the communities served to have a fair chance to win races to influence the education of their children. Democratic governance requires partnership. The city doesn’t absolve itself of any responsibility to schools just because there are democratically elected school community leaders sitting at the Board of Education. As mayor, I will continue to fight for resources in our schools, and maintain and build upon the coordinated support and services that the city has to offer children and families.
Sophia KingI will work with the education community and other stakeholders to choose the appointed members carefully. I am also hopeful that the newly elected school board will engender a greater sense of individual responsibility for the CPS. For too long, the School Board has acted as merely an extension of the Mayor’s office. This is incredibly important fiscally, as the newly elected board makes clear that these are two separate institutions, with separate budgets, and responsibilities. The City of Chicago will always stand strong to make sure that the Schools are properly funded, but I hope to eventually have a responsible independent partner in the School Board.
Lori LightfootMy mother, Ann Lightfoot, served on an elected school board, and that experience taught me about the importance of democratic input in public education. We will continue to work to improve the existing law, particularly to address the exclusion of non-citizens. Non-citizens are a significant part of CPS communities as parents, Local School Council members, and elsewhere. In a welcoming city, it is unconscionable that Springfield banned non-citizens from serving on the elected school board. I hope to work with Gov. Pritzker and the legislature to establish clarity and ensure that our schools, teachers, and students receive the representation and resources they deserve. The Mayor’s Office has a dedicated team focused on education and human services led by a Deputy Mayor that will work hand-in-hand with the new school board on our shared priorities, and I look forward to that partnership.
Roderick SawyerI led the ballot initiative to have an advisory referendum on an elected, representative school board, so I’ve been a supporter for a long time. I also spent 10 years as chairman of a local school council – the idea of representation for everyone in the school ecosystem is very important to me. So I will work very well with the ERSB. Teachers, for example, have to be a big part of the discussion. I’ve worked very closely with CTU in my career and my mother, Celeste, taught special education at CPS for 35 years. One of the reasons our schools are failing and enrollment is declining is because parents feel powerless. Add that to falling test scores and it would make any parent want to move to the suburbs if they have the means. I would make sure we are doing extensive community outreach for parental involvement, for LSC membership, and to prepare people in all of our neighborhoods to run for school board. I’d develop programs for community members to get trained on what it takes to sit on a school board and how to run for one, so income and other demographics are not a barrier to participating.
Paul VallasLike I have done all my career I will work with the elected board of education with the respect that is due to them as an equally elected official that is representing the needs of the community that elected them. In all CPS work I will put the needs of the students first and advocated with the board for any necessary resources. Before this board takes office it is important that they do not inherit a broken system, I will push the dollars to the school level and ensure that schools have the resources they need.
Willie WilsonObviously, the mayor is responsible for public education even with an elected school board. I would be actively engaged to make sure that communities are represented on the Board and not special interests with an agenda that does not help our children. As a businessman, I am used to working with people and getting positive results. I will work with the elected school board members in the same way.

The Chicago Teachers Union’s contract ends next year. There was an 11-day strike in 2019, a rocky return to in-person learning in 2021, and five days of canceled classes in January 2022. How do you plan to avoid a strike in the next contract negotiation with CTU?

Kam BucknerIt’s critical we both protect our teachers and ensure that our students get the best possible learning experience, so avoiding another strike is a high priority. One of my very first campaign promises was to be a part of the CTU contract negotiation directly – not by proxy or by press conference. I’ll work through the contract negotiation at my kitchen table if I have to. I’ll foster a strong working relationship with the CTU and make sure that open, collaborative relationship results in addressing their needs before it escalates to a strike. I won’t wait until the June 30th, 2024 contract negotiation date to start this work. I’ll begin right after inauguration, over a year before the contract expires. When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled – CTU and the city have been fighting, and our young people have been trampled as a result. We need a Mayor with the conviction and drive to stop that cycle.
Jesús “Chuy” GarcíaNo one has benefited from the adversarial relationship between CTU and the Mayor and our children have been its victims. Turning that difficult relationship into something constructive will be a test for the new Mayor. I’llnegotiate in good faith, and I expect the CTU to do the same. Avoiding a strike takes goodwill and negotiation of both parties. I will do my part. Teachers know me. They know that I respect them and value their work. They know that I understand the realities they face in the classrooms. I also know CTU. I’ve been lucky to have had a close relationship and fought many battles together. We can have the difficult conversations that inevitably arise as an organization as complicated as CPS moves forward, but I am confident we can do so in a constructive manner. Importantly, I will be using the relationships I have built over many years to fight for full funding of our schools in Springfield. Chicago needs a Mayor who brings people together. It’s what I’ve done my entire life, from my time as an organizer to my time on the City Council, in Springfield, on the Cook County Board, and now in Congress.
Ja’Mal GreenAvoiding a strike should not be the goal, it should be the natural result of good contract negotiations with livable wages and fair working conditions as the goal. I will do anything I can to be a good partner for the CTU as well as CPS. However, my priority is ensuring a well-rounded education for our children.
Brandon JohnsonWe need a mayor who can reasonably work with labor. We cannot have the type of leader who will promise something like, say, an elected representative school board and then fight tooth and nail to stop it from being enacted. We cannot have a mayor who, on the campaign trail, calls for a nurse and social worker in every school, then puts teachers on strike for two weeks when they ask for exactly that in writing. We cannot have a mayor who grants expanded parental leave to city workers, but blocks educators from receiving the same. Just a shift in consistency and keeping one’s word will more than allow for a much more rational and collaborative process.
As mayor, I will be a partner in working with Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union to remove obstacles in the way of achieving excellent schools, rather than contributing to constant friction. The stakes are too high for our students and families for labor and leadership not to have a positive working relationship. And I will openly advocate and build coalitions to identify revenue sources and structures that, over time, will deliver the fully funded schools that families and communities deserve.
Sophia KingRegular conversations throughout the year about the concerns of our teachers and support staff is critical to ensuring we are on the same page once we reach the negotiation table. Changes such as staffing and class size or the need for covid safety protocols are issues that our parents care about as well. If we foster a spirit of collaboration, we take the steps necessary to ensure our teachers are supported, our students are thriving and our parents can trust our schools with the education of their children.
Lori LightfootWe want to create a safe and nurturing environment for our children and to uplift parent voices and participation. Recently retired CTU President Jesse Sharkey called the current contract the best in CTU history. We agree and have been working diligently to meet and exceed our contractual obligations. The keys are communication and collaboration. Regardless of previous differences between my administration and the CTU, my team remains committed to ensuring that our teachers remain some of the best compensated in the nation and have the resources and support they need to educate the next generation of Chicagoans. Our children deserve no less.
Roderick SawyerMy father taught me to talk to all of your bargaining units as soon as you get in office – the first day. I would work things out sooner rather than later and not wait until the end of the contract to work things out with bargaining partners. Far too often, especially in the last two administrations, the strike is about power rather than education. Mayor Emanuel and Mayor Lightfoot were intent on demonstrating they were in charge – and in both cases it not only didn’t show what they had hoped, it brought terrible results for students and families. I intend to have a very positive relationship with CTU because I always have had a positive relationship with CTU. The CTU issues are my issues. I want to see Chicago become a model of education, and not simply have our educational system follow the austerity budget path to extinction. I was out on the front lines protesting the school closings under Mayor Emanuel – not because I was employed by CTU, but because I cared about the communities being damaged by the reactionary closures that had no long-term plans behind them. Even though I’m not the CTU candidate in this race, the organization would play a vital role in my plan to reinvent CPS.
Paul VallasThe previous CTU strike could have been avoided and we see the cost of that strike in the already exacerbated loss of learning from the pandemic. Over the course of my career I have negotiated 6 teacher contracts with teachers unions in the largest district in 4 different states that led to no strikes and members getting a pay raise. If all parties work in good faith there should be no need for a teacher strike this year which only leads to a greater negative impact of the education on Chicago’s children who are already struggling to regain confidence in the classroom.
Willie WilsonThe way to avoid a strike is to begin the negotiations early and stay at the table until the deal is done. My interest is making sure that any deal helps our children, teachers, and the community. I will negotiate in good faith and expect the same from the CTU.

Chicago Public Schools stopped rating schools and holding students back during the pandemic. Both accountability policies are under review. How do you think schools should be measured, judged, or rated?

Kam BucknerWe need to measure school accountability fairly, equitably and holistically. The School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) that is currently used perpetuates and encourages many of the things that are wrong with the District. Our accountability measures need to take into account how and if we are educating the whole child in a way that reverberates beyond a standardized test. I’d ask the foremost experts in the world to come together to provide a suggestion on a new system and new success metrics — these experts need to include former teachers like my mother, district parents, and other leaders in the space.
Jesús “Chuy” GarcíaI support CPS’ decision to replace these accountability procedures during the pandemic. I support the move towards less punitive measures and performance metrics that provide information that can foster continuous improvements. I also support ongoing and community inclusive review of the metrics CPS uses as (a) we continue to learn more about what works, and (b) the challenges our communities face continue to evolve. We must give consideration to implementing policies that allow for a robust education for all students. This may require that schools with lower school enrollments receive resources so that they can provide essential coursework and services. We must not punish our students for declining enrollment, but ensure that schools have the resources to provide a quality education regardless of their enrollment size.
Ja’Mal GreenI believe in working with our partners at the Illinois State Board of Education and the federal Department of Education to determine the most equitable model for measuring school achievement.
Brandon JohnsonWe cannot continue to punish schools that have suffered from decades of divestment, violence and destabilization. When a school struggles, we often give them more accountability, yet fewer resources. So any school rating formula must bring greater equity, and greater support, to ensure greater success. Chicago Public Schools does not need its own rating structure, as the state still has and requires one. CPS’s time is better spent identifying sources of revenue to fill the gaps identified in programs, staffing and services that we know hold schools back from meeting student needs and increasing enrollment. I live in Austin. My wife and I drive two children to Portage Park and another to Hyde Park every day because there are few schools in our community to meet their extracurricular needs. Families should not have to leave their community to find a school with a music program, a sports program, a nurse in every school or a library with a librarian. We have to use what we already know about the strengths, weaknesses and assets in our schools to ensure that we are directing resources to where they are needed to make every school excellent.
Sophia KingWe need to reimagine accountability as we assess the performance of our schools. Key indicators such as student grades, test scores, attendance and graduation rates have a place in the evaluation. However, other factors such as the level of parent engagement and location community partners could help to create a greater neighborhood focus on our schools. The ability of schools to launch their students to college into the workforce through the trades is another factor that should be weighed.
Lori LightfootWe need accountability measures to ensure that public school students in every corner of our city are receiving the education and support they deserve. It’s vital that these measures take a holistic view of the circumstances students are experiencing, are not punitive to students, and have the best interests of our students at heart. We are committed to working with CPS to implement accountability measures that do exactly that.
Roderick SawyerWe need to have measurements and numbers. There has to be some kind of system to tell us what is working and what isn’t. Now, having said that, I don’t think schools should simply live and die by reading and math scores. We all know there are myriad outside factors that affect student performance at individual schools. We do need to have data on student reading and math scores, for example, and use them to refine curriculum, but we also need to measure things like student engagement. Are the kids coming every day? Are their scores improving? These are key elements in determining whether a school is successful. I would ask a group of educators, counselors and other professionals to develop a school health barometer that can measure each school while taking into account its advantages or systemic challenges. It’s a moral imperative that we do everything we can to educate ALL our students and give them a chance at the best life possible.
Paul VallasWe should aspire for high standards, we cannot embrace the bigotry of soft expectations. We must set high standards, we have to measure school’s base on their improvement as a school. We must take every school uniquely and see their growth from where they were to where they are.
Willie WilsonThe schools should be measured on how well our children are doing. Are they able to read and write at or above grade level? Are they able to compete in science and technology with their peers from across the country? Are they ready for college or the workplace? Too many of our children are not meeting the standards above. This must change.

What are your thoughts about Chicago Public Schools’ student-based budgeting model, which ties a school’s funding to how many students are enrolled?

Kam BucknerThe student-based budgeting model has made it easier for the district to marginalize students from certain zip codes. We need to move to a need-based funding model, and I’ve committed to doing so in my education plan. I will fully implement the data-backed evidence-based funding formula to ensure that schools with the highest needs are receiving the resources they need to thrive, not just survive.
Jesús “Chuy” GarcíaI share the concern of advocates that student based funding formulas could disproportionately impact students in underserved communities. I want to avoid even unintentionally harming students without addressing the root causes of declining enrollment. However,this is not the time to become embroiled in arguments. Instead, this is the time to argue for fully funding CPS. I will work to double the total EBFF contribution, realizing an immediate $350 m increase, and speeding the ramp to full funding.
Ja’Mal GreenI strongly oppose the enrollment-based model of funding. We must transition to a needs-based model, one which works to ensure that all schools regardless of size have access to adequate resources with which to provide a quality education.
Brandon JohnsonStudent-based budgeting (SBB) and the former SQRP rating policy have had a devastating impact on our schools. SBB, in particular, has contributed to principals whose budgets are strapped to choose between keeping a veteran teacher or having a librarian and a functioning library. Schools struggling with enrollment need to have a process by which root causes are identified and resources are deployed to ensure students still have the richest possible education, and the school has an opportunity to grow its enrollment. The state, in its evidence-based funding model, has recognized that student and community needs must drive school funding, and that all districts must be brought up to a certain level of resources to meet those needs. Yet CPS has not adopted that approach among its schools. We cannot keep supporting a system that favors choice, but does not provide schools with the same baseline resources and offerings – then punishes students who attend the less frequently chosen school.
Sophia KingWe cannot achieve equity in our schools if the funding formula is based on property taxes and enrollment. As we work to increase density in our neighborhoods through multiple tactics such as TIFs and opportunity zones, we need to ensure our districts benefit. An example of this is the former Micheal Reece project that I lead as Alderman of the 4th Ward. We negotiated a $25 million commitment for local schools. This is the kind of leadership we need for every development to ensure the community and our schools also see an upside.
Lori LightfootThe student-based budgeting model offers a helpful guide when allocating funding, but it is an imperfect method that can lead to an inequitable distribution of resources if we’re not intentional about how we go about it. That’s why, to ensure smaller, under-enrolled schools have the resources they need to provide their students with the high quality education they deserve, CPS is providing $50 million in equity grants in 2023 ($14 million more than we provided in 2022) to supplement existing resources to support classroom instruction.
Roderick SawyerMy first thought: It’s not working. Whether you have 44 students, a recent count at the Frederick Douglass Academy, or 1,000, every school should have certain basic elements. These include counselors, social workers, nurses, librarians, extracurricular activities from sports to debate to drama. We have schools that have become so under-enrolled they can’t possibly serve our students as we need them to. Not only do they get none of those must-have elements I mentioned, they simply don’t have enough peers and classmates to develop the social and emotional skills they would at a fully enrolled school.
Paul VallasThe first priority is to push the funding down to the schools. We have to have the majority of the funding flow down to the local schools as of right now only 60% of the funds makes it to the local schools. My second priority is to make sure that the money that is allocated to the students encompasses the needs of the student, we need to make sure the school district is allocating Title I money directly to the school it is assigned too. This money needs to flow directly to the school with only minimal diversions because unfortunately funding due to poverty has been used as discretionary funds by the administration.
Willie WilsonThis is something that must be discussed with parents, teachers, and community leaders. I do not favor funding schools based on property taxes. This creates an inherently unequal system. I favor full funding of our schools especially those in distressed communities.

The Illinois legislature created a tax-credit scholarship program in 2017 to expand school choice. After a one-year extension, the program is scheduled to sunset in 2025. Do you support continuing the state’s tax-credit scholarship program? Why or why not?

Kam BucknerParents should be able to send their kids to a good school in their community for free. Because CPS has been gutted and certain communities have been left behind by the district, the tax credit scholarship exists to give parents the ability and opportunity to send their kids to a good school outside of their neighborhood and outside of the neighborhood school system. Right now, more than 7,000 students in need are using this program. A better alternative for these students would be providing good public options in their communities. I worry that these dollars are going to private schools, further exacerbating the funding gap for public schools. Bottom line is we need to fully fund our public schools. If we have the resources to invest in better schools to serve our communities, programs like the tax credit scholarship program won’t be necessary.
Jesús “Chuy” GarcíaMy priority is fully funding CPS. So, while I support empowering parents to make decisions about their children’s education, my support for extending the tax credit will be based on whether it is supplemental rather than in lieu of fully funding CPS.
Ja’Mal GreenI believe the Mayor of Chicago should collaborate with our partners at the state level, rather than use the bully pulpit of the fifth floor to make policy demands.
Brandon JohnsonI do not, because this is the kind of thinking that continues to reinforce unequal educational opportunities. Until every Chicago public school and big-city public school has the baseline of resources provided in suburban districts with high property tax bases, the idea of “choice” is a fallacy. Parents with resources are able to navigate the system for their students, which I don’t begrudge. What is concerning is that families without the means, time, resources and access to navigating these same systems have no choice at all. I am not interested in continuing to shift unequal resources around. I am interested in leveling the playing field for all families.
Sophia KingWe need state funding to ensure every school, not just some schools open in Chicago, is an excellent school that our Parents can trust with the education of their children.
Lori LightfootWhen it comes to funding from Springfield, our focus has to remain on making sure that CPS gets its fair share. A healthy CPS is a healthy Chicago, and a healthy Chicago has regional and statewide impacts. My focus remains on all of our CPS funded schools, our children, and their families.
Roderick SawyerNo. School choice is another phrase for defunding public education. I want to see tax dollars go to our public schools. You can’t be a world class city without world class public education – education for everyone. The Invest In Kids Act, as it was named, diverts up to $75 million each year in tax revenue, while 80 percent of Illinois public schools lack adequate funding. The private schools that benefit from this program don’t necessarily provide the type of full, equitable education we require of our public schools. There is little evidence voucher programs (though this isn’t called one, it is very similar) educate the children who participate with any better outcomes than the public schools from which they siphon money.
Paul VallasThe tax credit scholarship program is beneficial in empowering parents to pick the school that best suits their child’s needs. Whether the students attend private, parochial, public or public charter schools they are students of the City and we need to ensure quality education regardless of their zip code.
Willie WilsonYes, competition is always good. This is a program supported by businesses and individuals to assist disadvantaged students. The scholarship is based on need and provides choice for young people to attend non-public schools. I support every student having the best opportunity to get an excellent education.

During the early days of the pandemic, students with disabilities had limited or no access to academic accommodations written in their Individualized Education Program. Many students were unable to receive or renew IEPs to meet their needs. What will you do to ensure that students with disabilities are being identified without delay and getting the resources they need to catch up in school?

Kam BucknerIdentifying these students quickly and providing them with the right resources to succeed is critical to driving better outcomes for them in the long-term. My comprehensive accessibility plan commits to tasking CPS administration with creating a plan to address disabled student inequity – students with disabilities, particularly Black disabled students, are also more likely to enter the school-to-prison pipeline. The graduation rate of students with disabilities is 13% less than the general population. Our administrators need to put dedicated effort into resolving these inequities for our young people.
Jesús “Chuy” GarcíaSince former CEO Forrest Claypool’s drastic (and illegal) cuts to Special Ed services in 2016, CPS has been under the supervision of an ISBE monitor to ensure rightful implementation of special education services In Sept 2022, CPS became the subject of an investigation by ISBE as a result of a cacophony of complaints from families regarding denied, delayed and egregious transportation issues for children with IEPs. Currently, there is little trust or confidence from families with the most vulnerable children – those with disabilities and special needs. Students with disabilities deserve far better, and it’s the job of the Mayor to stand up for them with critical investments and real action. As Mayor, I will commit to a full external evaluation of CPS special education policies and transportation practices and publish an action plan to remediate practices immediately. I will hold town halls and listening tours specifically for families with children with IEPs.
Ja’Mal GreenThe Green administration is fully committed to ensuring that every single student has access to the individualized accommodations they need to succeed. It is crucial to make sure that schools are fully staffed with multiple professionals across the fields of social work, mental and behavioral health, and childhood development, so that students with disabilities can get the resources they need as quickly as possible. Disabilities, especially those that are cognitive in nature, aren’t always visible or immediately identified, and can range in severity or even symptoms from one student to another. Expanding support services within CPS schools will allow each student to access the support needed to learn, grow, and thrive as young members of our community. Education is not one-size-fits-all, and disabilities aren’t all identical – so we need to be prepared to meet the needs of our children to allow them to succeed.
Brandon JohnsonTeachers in Seattle last fall ratified a contract with a three adult (two teachers, one instructional assistant) to 10 student ratio to help address the needs of their special education population. Chicago must work toward something similar to address compensatory services and the particular needs of this incredibly vulnerable student population. We also need greater clinical support to properly diagnose and service the individualized education programs of these students. This includes the need to ramp up pipelines with state and local funding to hire many more teachers, special education classroom assistants and teacher assistants to address the accumulated needs of students living with disabilities.
Sophia KingAs a former educator, I understand the importance of customizing the approach to teaching to meet the student’s needs. With roughly more than 40,000, enrolled in CPS, identified as having a disability, we cannot underscore the importance of expediting the backlog of students waiting to be re-evaluated this year. With nearly half of these students needing ESL services and Black disabled students more likely to enter the school-to-prison pipeline, the urgency cannot be understated. The graduation rate of students with disabilities is 13% less than the general population.
As Mayor I would work with CPS to ensure that we closed the educational outcomes gaps for students with IEPs, full-fund year-round support services, and attract the most highly effective teachers to our city. We do this by ensuring that Chicago’s teachers don’t only have the best resources, but have the best experience. We can do that by incentivizing teachers to move and work in Chicago by selling them city owned vacant lots for $1 each, providing interest free loans backed by City bonds for construction, rehab and down payment assistance.
Lori LightfootSupporting Chicagoans with disabilities has been a hallmark of our administration. And we have been putting our money where our mouth is—this year’s CPS budget includes a $45 million increase in funding for special education. In addition, our Chicago Recovery Plan includes $20 million in aid for our most vulnerable students, which includes students with disabilities. IEPs are a critical tool for the success of diverse learners, and we are working closely with CPS to monitor IEP renewals in addition to other supports. In this year’s budget, we’re providing 53 additional schools with a second centrally-funded counselor position (on top of the 64 we already provide), which will increase resources as we continue to improve support for students with disabilities.
Roderick SawyerStudents with disabilities can’t be left adrift like this at any time in our system, no matter what. The pandemic was an unusual occurrence, but there still should have been a plan for extraordinary circumstances. This wasn’t a fault of the incumbent, but CPS needs plans to keep EVERY student engaged and on their individualized education program no matter what happens in their personal lives or in the broader world I also want every student in CPS to have an assessment to determine special needs and to develop an IEP that will maximize their academic achievement. A student may have a condition, let’s say dyslexia, for example, that simply hasn’t been diagnosed and can be readily addressed. While CPS remains under Mayoral jurisdiction, I would ensure adequate funding for assessments and the required IEP resources.
Paul VallasStudents with disabilities are a priority even much more so after the loss of learning experienced due to the pandemic. The key to supporting these students is the availability of resources at the local school level. My administration will reallocate dollars in a way that the schools see the most benefit and allow principals to support all the students in their neighborhood schools.
Willie WilsonThis is unacceptable! My Administration will ensure that children with disabilities receive the resources to meet their individualized education program. I will have a point person on my staff to ensure that our children with disabilities or special needs receive the education required by law.

Are you for or against trade/vocational education? How would you reactivate trade school curriculum and would it be available in all schools?

Kam BucknerI believe we need to expand career technical education options for students across the city. We need to create more opportunities for students who want to pursue good-paying trade jobs right after high school. I would work to expand these programs so that students at all CPS schools can engage in a trade school curriculum if they want to. We can do this by partnering with building trade organizations and unions that can go beyond just providing apprenticeship opportunities and allow students to convert their work into good-paying jobs.
Jesús “Chuy” GarcíaI am for vocational education. There is good evidence that it enhances future academic success. As Mayor, I will forge stronger ties with industry and non-profit organizations to create internships and career pathways for students. Steps like these are important for an equitable economic recovery, by expanding access for students to experience work in a wide array of fields. Having said this, it is important that students be provided options. Students should not be steered into a path of vocational education as their only option.
Ja’Mal GreenI am strongly for trade and vocational education. We need to be providing our young people with a pipeline to middle class jobs, and that starts with educational opportunities where they can learn a trade. I will go beyond that, though, and have committed to a citywide apprenticeship program for youth starting at age 13, with city subsidies funding young people’s apprenticeships across the city.
Brandon JohnsonWe need to do much better to train Chicagoans to fill the jobs that exist today. Businesses are hiring and manufacturers are hiring. There may be somewhere around 30,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs across the state, and a good number of them are here in Chicago. But we’ve abandoned vocational training in our schools. Modern manufacturing jobs require tech skills, and it is our job to give our students the skills necessary to succeed. So I am all for trade and vocational education, commonly known as Career and Technical Education (CTE), in Chicago Public Schools. CTE is essential to closing the gap between our district, and skilled trade industries and employers.
There is potential in some of the plans the district and CPS CEO Pedro Martinez have around this. With an aviator simulator in Dunbar, and making Tilden, Phillips, Chicago Vocational and Fenger sustainable community schools with specialized and relevant trades training, we will have education and apprenticeship pipelines to create the skills and engagement necessary for a CTE corridor that will empower our Black and Latinx students to become the next generation of unionized trade workers.
Sophia KingI am for bringing trade and vocational curriculum back to our schools. We have to embrace the power of ‘and’ in education, and recognize that every student deserves the opportunity to experience and choose a profession or occupation which is right for them. That means not only maintaining a strong curriculum grounded in college preparedness, but also restoring the access to the trades and apprenticeships as a key component of our public school education. There are thousands of disconnected youth in the city, and education is the primary vehicle needed to re-engage them into school and/or good paying jobs. By providing a more direct connection to their own personal material success, we can enhance their connection to educational institutions and future opportunities. By ensuring that students are able to take advanced courses in history and automotive maintenance, we can enhance students’ futures while crafting a workforce that will enhance Chicago’s future as well.
Lori LightfootThe trades offer good-paying, stable employment opportunities to Chicagoans from all walks of life. I have been a strong proponent of both promoting trade/vocational education. We’re investing in modern labs, programming, and technology to help revitalize Career and Technical Education in CPS. My administration also expanded opportunities for CPS students to discover opportunities in the trades through launching initiatives like the first citywide Skilled Trade Career Fair in 2022 to provide students with hands-on exposure to the trades (last year’s saw 3,000 students participate, and—due to its success—this year’s fair will be expanded). We have also supported the implementation of the Chicago Roadmap, a partnership with CPS and City Colleges recently showcased by the US Department of Education, which incorporates model pathways for career and technical education.
Roderick SawyerI’ve been an advocate for trade schools and vocational education my entire career for many reasons. We should never have moved away from trades and vocations as a significant component in our educational system. Trades provide a good wage and have been underpopulated by Black and Brown people. The availability of trade programs would keep students enrolled in schools, engage them in programs that feel useful for students not headed for higher education, and offer valuable life skills in addition to employment opportunities. This is certainly a good idea for carpentry, plumbing, auto mechanics and the traditional trades, but could also be used to teach something like real estate. These all can provide good careers for people, but also are helpful things to know in life. Even if a student doesn’t make it a career, everyone is going to want to build a shelf, fix a leaky toilet, start a stalled car or buy a house at some point. We can have some kind of introductory trade classes available at all schools – things that would be taught at an entry level. This would give basic instruction to everyone so they at least have a baseline understanding of the topic, and open up the idea of building a career to the students who might be inclined toward one. Then each trade could be offered regionally, so a student interested in, say, auto mechanics, could attend one in their general area of the city. But it wouldn’t make sense to have every program at every school. Students could study basic curriculum with vocational intro programs in the first two years, and then move to a school with the specific trade or vocational program they want to study.
Paul VallasYes I support trade and vocational education. However I believe on a broader scale that we need to integrate a work study program into all of our high schools and make elective programs more meaningful. We need to reestablish our VocEd and occupational training programs that were in our high schools during my time at the CPS. My administration will do this by partnering with local trade unions and businesses in our city. We have to leverage these connections in ways that attract our students to take interest in these programs that offer amazing opportunities for success after high school.
Willie WilsonI am for trade/vocational education! In fact, under my Administration before someone can graduate from CPS they must have a trade. Everyone will not go to college. However, if a student has a trade, they can make it. I would require CTA and CPD to allow our young people to work on repairing busses and police cars. Also, lead pipe removal can be done by some of our young people. This is a jobs program.

Describe a high quality school. (How many staff work there? What are students taught? What programs or extracurriculars are offered? What support services are available? What does the facility look like? What is the schedule?) How many CPS schools meet your definition of a high quality school?

Kam BucknerA high-quality school has 16 students for each teacher. There is a librarian, social worker, counselor and nurse onsite. There is sufficient support staff, and the faculty demographically looks like the student body. These schools also have a robust STEAM education program so our students have the opportunity to explore their interests and develop their skills. There is a robust arts and sports program, partnerships with the local community and the business community, and opportunities for career technical education. By these criteria, there are very few CPS schools that fit the complete definition of high-quality schools, and we need to get the funding to change that.
Jesús “Chuy” Garcíapartners, builds trust and two way relationships with all stakeholders, prioritizes shared leadership and teacher leadership for continuous improvement in instructional practices. A high quality school also employs culturally responsive, affirmative and trauma-informed practices. In addition, I support the long term research which indicates the five essentials that are critical to improved student outcomes, including improved attendance and larger test score gains:
1. Effective Leaders
2. Collaborative Teachers
3. Involved Families
4. Supportive Environments
5. Ambitious Instruction
Five of the highest performing schools in the nation are CPS schools, including Walter Payton College Prep, Northside College Preparatory, Jones College Prep, Whitney Young Magnet High School and Lane Tech. The top five schools in Illinois are also CPS schools and four more CPS schools made the top 25 schools in Illinois, including Brooks College Prep, Hancock College Prep, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, and Phoenix Military Academy. We need to ensure all schools have the resources needed to be a high quality school and that all neighborhoods and students are able to access quality education.
Ja’Mal GreenThere is no one definition of a high quality school. Successful schools are going to look differently in Englewood than in Ravenswood – they should be structured to serve the community they’re in. In general, however, successful schools have a higher ratio of faculty to students, a well developed program for social services and mental/behavioral health, after-school and weekend programs that serve both children and adults, and paths to individualization of education for those who need it.
Brandon JohnsonWe have a model that works – the Sustainable Community School (SCS) model, which calls for collaborative and effective strategy for increasing educational equity. SCS builds on the traditional community school model to prioritize specific pillars and principles to make schools the anchors of their communities, and to share leadership around meeting student, family, educator, staff and community needs. We also have schools that have parent mentors, community programming and partnerships to provide additional support for mental and physical health across the district. Neighborhood schools like Kelly High, National Teachers Academy, Hanson Park Elementary (despite a horrendous facility situation), Chavez Elementary, Beidler Elementary are all vibrant school communities using culturally relevant curriculum and community partnerships to advance the academic and social/emotional needs of countless children. However, we need to do more and better. That will require greater investments in addressing the needs of homeless children, students with disabilities and all the newcomers who do not speak English as their primary language. It also cannot continue to be the case that selective enrollment schools, which provide students with the most extensive course offerings, extracurriculars and sports opportunities, serve only the wealthiest students in the system.
Sophia KingHigh quality schools have a very community focused principal and staff that excel in engaging students and their families. They have small class sizes to afford teachers the opportunity to customize student learning. These schools may offer exposure to both a path to college, tech and the trades. There co-curricular (after school) offerings are just as robust as the curricular. The school also offers continuing education. It has a school nurse, counselor and the support staff that it needs.
I believe that every child deserves an excellent education regardless of their zip code or neighborhood. As a former educator, I diversified classes at the Latin School of Chicago and promoted co-curricular education at Chicago Public Schools. With an eye on equity, I helped establish the Ariel Community Academy to provide the North Kenwood-Oakland residents with the same quality education that my students at Latin received. As Mayor, my goal will be to ensure that every school open in Chicago is a school any parent can be proud of and trust with the education of their children.
Lori LightfootA high-quality school is one that provides a comprehensive and culturally-competent curriculum and has enough faculty and staff to ensure appropriate class sizes and proper attention to individual students. It offers a diverse set of extracurricular activities that allow every student to explore something they are passionate about outside of the school day and a wide range of services to support the unique needs that students have both inside and outside of the classroom. It also has clean, safe, and modern facilities that support academic, arts, and athletic programming. Most importantly, it is one that every student, parent, teacher, and staff member feels welcome and safe in each and every day. My administration has worked closely with CPS to make robust investments and policy changes over the last four years to make sure that vision of a high-quality public school is a reality across all of our neighborhoods—and I am excited to continue this vital work over the next four years.
Roderick SawyerIn my ward (the 6th), there is Arthur Dixon Elementary School and McDade Elementary Classical School in Chatham. They certainly meet the criteria. We have others that are close, like Englewood STEM. But the answer to your question is “not nearly enough.’’ A fraction of our schools are high quality, but it’s vital that we change that answer to “all of them.’’ It’s anti-democratic, unfair and morally wrong that students can only do as well as the school assigned to them geographically. My high quality school is fully staffed – not to the minimum standards we still fall short of today, but with class sizes small enough to allow plenty of direct instruction and with enough counselors, nurses, librarians and social workers to ensure students are happy and healthy. Students are taught the STEM courses, certainly, but also literature, music and arts. They enjoy sports, band, debate club and extracurriculars that expose them to a wide variety of interests. Some students find lifelong passions through school activities – something that may or may not add to a livelihood, but definitely enhance their lives. The facilities are large and equipped with the most modern technology – even if we preserve and use some vintage or historic buildings that can, themselves, serve as part of the instruction.
Paul VallasA high quality is a medium sized neighborhood school that embraces high standards and offers the students a high quality curriculum that ensures students achieve a high level of proficiency in all core areas. The ideal quality school offers key enrichment opportunities in the academic year as well as continuing into the non-traditional school hours (weekends, evenings, summers and holidays) to support students in their growth. My ideal quality school offers key wrap-around services for students to ensure they are holistically growing. This school also needs a well trained and supported local school council that broadly represents the community and can provide a vehicle for community input in school governance and supplemental activities.
Willie WilsonA high-quality school is one that is safe. The school has great leadership, high expectations of teachers and students, sets goals and determines if goals have been reached. The students at the school receive a STEM and trade education. The facility is safe and clean. The facility is open six days a week.

Becky Vevea is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat Chicago. Contact Becky at bvevea@chalkbeat.org.  

Mauricio Peña is a reporter for Chalkbeat Chicago, covering K-12 schools. Contact Mauricio at mpena@chalkbeat.org.

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.