Because Chicago is America’s most segregated big city it has always suffered from a lack of democratic processes.
Our city has always been the home of the undemocratic Political Machine.
It remains so today.
Racial segregation and lack of democracy are twins.
Nothing epitomized this basic fact more than the regime of Chicago’s first Mayor Daley. His iron fisted rule was supported by racial policies that promoted segregation in every area of our city’s life: neighborhoods, parks and schools – just to begin the list.
It was with the election of our first African American mayor, Harold Washington, that we began to see cracks in the system, promoted by someone sitting in a seat of power.
One of those cracks was the creation of Local School Councils in 1988, shortly after Harold’s death.
Local School Councils were established at every public Chicago school with members democratically elected with representation from parents, teachers and community residents. They were given very specific authority. and control never before seen at the community level.
Because fighting racism and broader democracy for everyone are also twins.
Local School Councils stand in stark contrast to mayoral control of our city’s board of education
After Harold’s death, the fifth floor of City Hall never liked nor supported the idea of the Local School Council. A succession of mayors (including another Daley) tried starving them, reducing funding, undermining their decisions and offering little in the way of the training that was provided when they were created.
But it has taken until now and another Daley – Bill – to actually call for their destruction in his campaign for Mayor.
Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey responded to Bill Daley’s idea.