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Incredible: Chicago Teachers Union Boss Accidentally Champions School Choice


Last week, we mentioned rumors and reports circulating out of Chicago that the president of the city's teachers union sends one of her own children to private school.  Stacy Davis-Gates has called school choice advocates bigots and fascists.  She's referred to private schools as 'segregation academies,' stating specifically that school choice is "the choice of racists."  It's also, awkwardly, her choice -- as she now admits that her family has chosen to send her son to a $15,000-per-year private school.  It seems she's actually a fan of certain "segregation academies," under specific and self-interested conditions.  What's truly incredible is the letter to unions members she has released justifying this decision, framing the charges of hypocrisy as "recent online attacks against my family and our union."  She's playing both the victimhood and race cards, of course.  Some key passages:


"Sadly [the role of crafting educational policy] has been left to millionaires, billionaires and those living outside our neighborhoods, city and state. These violent forces want to skip over the realities of racism and discrimination in educational institutions and propose a "choice" agenda that ignores this context. They want to ban books and diversity inclusion while ignoring the disproportionate suspensions, expulsions and criminalization of Black boys. Here is the truth: If you are a Black family living in a Black community, high-quality neighborhood schools have been the dream, not the reality. Unlike some white counterparts on the North Side or in the suburbs, we aren't blessed with quality options blocks away from our home, neatly placed near a grocery store, doctor's office or a safe public park. Our schools are usually stranded in food and healthcare deserts.

Our critics want you to believe that "school choice" is a black-and-white issue that lacks nuance and hard choices for people like us, Black families-especially when you are parenting a Black boy in America. For my husband and me, it forced us to send our son, after years of attending a public school, to a private high school so he could live out his dream of being a soccer player while also having a curriculum that can meet his social and emotional needs, even as his two sisters remain in Chicago Public Schools. In Chicago, we have repeatedly witnessed the same school-choice operators who want to call me a hypocrite take action to shortchange students, engage in fraudulent practices and provide substandard services to Black and Brown families..."


Let's start by examining with the very beginning and very end of this excerpt.  She claims that policies in Chicago are written by "millionaires" and "billionaires," labeling these bogeymen "violent forces."  She also writes that the Powers That Be "engage in fraudulent practices" resulting in "substandard services to Black and Brown families."  Chicago is one of the bluest cities in the country, located in a Democrat-dominated state.  Unions wield more influence in Illinois, and Cook County in particular, than almost anywhere else in the United States.  If Ms. Davis-Gates really believes that Chicago's institutions are shot through with systemic racism, and that families of color are being forced into "substandard services," she's really indicting her political party, her ideology, and her union.  They run the state and the town.  They have for generations.

Lashing out at near-powerless forces and a political party that hasn't run Chicago forever is lazy, desperate scapegoating.  School choice advocates have very little clout in her backyard.  Indeed, they have even less clout than they used to, thanks to her own efforts to ensure that the freedom and flexibility she enjoys for her own family is denied to less fortunate people, many of them the "Black and Brown families" she pretends to champion:


She even helped kill an Illinois program providing grants to underprivileged children for private-school tuition; when it ends in January 2025, some 9,000 kids will lose out on what she provides for her own son. That doesn’t merely make her a hypocrite: It means she knows her rhetoric is untrue — but spouts it anyway in service to her powerful union.

The more important takeaway from her missive is the powerful case she makes for school choice, albeit inadvertently.  She explains that she and her husband decided that a private school was the best fit for their son because he wants to "live out his dream as a soccer player."  Not only that, they also preferred the private school's curriculum that can fulfuill her child's "social and emotional needs."  She admits that her local public school doesn't offer these opportunities to her satisfaction, so she's doing what is best for her kid.  But a primary purpose of her job as a union boss is to fight against other, poorer parents' ability to make precisely the sort of choices and calculations that she has.  She wants their children stuck in the failing schools she represents.  This is callous.  This is deeply hypocritical.  And it's 'privilege' of the worst sort.  Another teachers union boss was on television this weekend arguing for increased levels of more "equitable" spending as the supposed solution to serious problems in our education system.  We'll get to her predictable talking points below, but first let's review how serious matters have gotten:


Across the country, schools are scrambling to catch up students in math as post-pandemic test scores reveal the depth of missing skills. On average, students’ math knowledge is about half a school year behind where it should be, according to education analysts. Children lost ground on reading tests, too, but the math declines were particularly striking. Experts say virtual learning complicated math instruction, making it tricky for teachers to guide students over a screen or spot weaknesses in problem-solving skills. Plus, parents were more likely to read with their children at home than practice math. The result: Students’ math skills plummeted across the board, exacerbating racial and socioeconomic inequities in math performance. And students aren’t bouncing back as quickly as educators hoped, supercharging worries about how they will fare in high school and whether science, tech and medical fields will be available to them.

The New York Times also flags this problematic trend, another outgrowth of school closures:

For as long as schools have existed, so have these morning struggles. Nonetheless, children overcame them almost every day, sometimes with a strong nudge from parents. Going to school was the normal thing to do. Then, suddenly, it wasn’t. The long school closures during the Covid pandemic were the biggest disruption in the history of modern American education. And those closures changed the way many students and parents think about school. Attendance, in short, has come to feel more optional than it once did, and absenteeism has soared, remaining high even as Covid has stopped dominating everyday life...On an average day last year — the 2022-23 school year — close to 10 percent of K-12 students were not there, preliminary state data suggests. About one quarter of U.S. students qualified as chronically absent, meaning that they missed at least 10 percent of school days (or about three and a half weeks). That’s a vastly higher share than before Covid.


Education bureaucrats and teachers unions, especially in Democratic jurisdictions, sent a clear and toxic message during the pandemic that in-person eduction is non-essential.  Tragically, that selfish and anti-science attitude inflicted enormous harm on children -- and the 'non-essential' lesson has been internalized by millions of children and their families.  The resulting awful, lasting hangover is altering lives for the worse to this day.  And as alluded to above, the teachers unions offer only greedy demands and leftist buzzwords:

And yes, insisting on more money after a stunning slush fund windfall was paid out during the pandemic, is outrageously greedy.  Endlessly higher sums of money aren't actually effective, yet it's the same line the usual suspects come back to, over and over again -- all while assailing any form of competition.  It's not about the wellbeing or education of students.  It's about the power and money of special interests.  It's disgraceful.  In case you missed it, I'll leave you with Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin striking a blow in favor of parents and parental rights, in an announcement made on Fox News Sunday.  This represents the partial reversal of a grave injustice that became a major flashpoint in 2021:


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