Politics

Chicago Teachers Union Boss Says School Choice Is for ‘Racists’ But Sends Son to Private School


Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) President Stacy Davis-Gates has been embroiled in a media firestorm the last month after the news broke that she sends one of her children to a private school. As if that weren’t bad enough, it has become a public affairs nightmare for Ms. Davis-Gates due to previous inflammatory comments she’s made regarding school choice.

It’s not a new business for those with power and influence to speak out of both sides of their mouth. Still, this case is particularly egregious given the CTU’s ardent opposition to school choice, particularly a program meant to provide tuition assistance to students who can’t afford private school—a classic case of rules for thee but not for me. 

In a time when our past comments are immortalized on social media, you’d think the left would be better at tempering their rhetoric for fear it might come back to bite them in the you-know-what. Not in the case of Stacy Davis-Gates, who still justifies her past comments and her current choice to send her child to private school.

A good choice

CTU President Stacy Davis-Gates has made the choice as a concerned parent to send her son to a prestigious Catholic school whose average annual tuition is $14,750. It is her right as a parent to send her child to whatever school she thinks will provide the best educational experience possible.

Since she has the means to pay for a top-notch private school, I applaud her decision. I, too, have decided to keep my children out of the public school system in favor of homeschooling them, thus ensuring not just their physical and spiritual safety but also guaranteeing the quality of their education.

Nevertheless, the decision is more than a little hypocritical. In addition to being head of the teacher’s union, it wasn’t that long ago that Ms. Davis-Gates had some severe words for parents like me who advocate for school choice.

She once called school choice:

“…actually the choice of racists.”

She also claimed and backed up this argument with her background as a history teacher, claiming that private schools are really “segregation academies.” So, who or what is Ms. Davis-Gates trying to segregate her son from? 

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Ms. Davis-Gates claims that the public schools in her neighborhood are of poor quality. The public schools led by the teachers of her union, of course.

Apparently, she was “forced” to send her son to a private school, as she says:

“…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.”

How nice for him that he is blessed to have a mother who cares so much for his growth and has the means to provide him with the best chances possible for his future. If only every Chicago family had that option, or what is that word we use… oh that’s right, choice.

Who is the real fascist here?

Last year, the CTU President was asked in an interview if she had concerns about school choice and privatization supporters running for school boards, to which she answered:

“Yes, we are concerned about the encroachment of fascists in Chicago.”

She, of course, is not included in this group of fascists, despite her demonstrated support.

That same year, she claimed she had credibility in this arena, stating:

“My children go to Chicago Public Schools. These are the things that legitimize my space within the coalition.”

She went on to say:

“I can’t advocate on behalf of public education without it taking root in my own household.”

You’d think, given her comments, that she’d step down from her position as the CTU President or at least apologize. After all, according to herself, she no longer has a legitimate “space” in her coalition against school choice and private schools.

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That, of course, didn’t happen. Instead, she justified her decision by pointing out the dismal state of public schools in Chicago – again, schools that are run by the teachers in her union – all while claiming school choice is still a tool of right-wing extremists.

It’s been a while since I studied basic political philosophy. Still, I think there is a label for people like Stacy Davis-Gates…I’m sure it’ll come to me eventually.

The truth

In an email to Chicago teachers explaining her choice to send her son to private school, Ms. Davis-Gates writes:

“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.”

She goes on to throw shade at white families, writing:

“Unlike some white counterparts on the North Side or in the suburbs, we aren’t blessed with quality options blocks away from our home…”

Since we are on the subject of truth, let’s drop some truth bombs about Chicago public schools. Last year, 55 public schools in the Windy City had no students proficient in either math or reading.

That’s not to say that only a certain percentage was proficient. No student was proficient in the two subjects most critical for future academic success. Quite the accomplishment of Chicago teachers.

What do people like Stacy claim is the answer to failing public schools? Money, of which Chicago has received plenty.

This year, Illinois allocated $9.4 billion to Chicago public schools, and the federal government shelled out an additional $1.8 billion. But it’s not money that will fix the Chicago public schools or any public school systems in this country that have been failing students for decades.

Teacher’s unions, including the one Ms. Davis-Gates helms, don’t care about improving public schools or creating better learning environments for black families; it’s never been about any of that.

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Follow the money

It matters that someone as influential as Stacy Davis-Gates feels powerful enough to hypocritically enroll her child in a private school after slinging vitriol at those who advocate for all parents to have the same access to school choice as she does. But if you want to get to the root of the rot behind unions like Stacy’s, you need to get into what makes them run – cold, hard cash.

The CTU has tripled its political spending from $1 million in 2022 to just over $3 million this year. During his successful campaign for Mayor, they shelled out $2.3 million to their former employee and lobbyist Brandon Johnson.

It was former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot who nailed the CTU’s true mission on the head in an interview in 2021 when she said:

“I think, ultimately, they’d like to take over not only Chicago Public Schools, but take over running the city government.”

And it appears they have, much to the detriment of Chicago families. Let me leave you with this: a scholarship program in Chicago called Invest in Kids is set to end this calendar year if not renewed.

The program provides scholarships in tuition assistance to about 9,500 Chicago students who can’t afford to go to private schools in the city, like the one Stacy’s son now attends. Stacy and her union are hard at work lobbying for the end of this program.

Again, who is the real fascist in this scenario?

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