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I am endorsing Jesus (Chuy) Garcia for Mayor of Chicago. You might well ask why I, a resident of the state of New York, am making an endorsement in a Chicago election. I figure that if the Koch brothers can spend $889 million to influence the election of the next President of the United States, I should be able to endorse anyone anywhere. And so can you. All I have is my voice, and if it convinces someone to vote for Chuy (pronounced Chewy), then so be it, that’s democracy. Buying elections doesn’t sound democratic. It should be illegal. When two billionaires can spend more than either the Republican party or the Democratic party, that seems to me to be a threat to democracy. Endorsements are not.
I gave the following statement to my friends in the Garcia campaign to use as they see fit:
Many of my Chicago friends have asked me to endorse a candidate in the race for Mayor. I have watched events in Chicago very closely, and I believe strongly that it is time for a change in direction. I endorse Jesus (Chuy) Garcia for Mayor of the great city of Chicago.
I endorse him because it is time to end the destructive policies of the past 20 years. It is time to stop closing schools. It is time to give the public school children of Chicago the resources they need to have a good education, a great education, one that prepares them to be independent and responsible citizens and lifelong learners.
I endorse Garcia because he has pledged to bring Chicago an elected school board; he voted against mayoral control when he was in the Legislature. It is wrong that Chicago is the only district in the state whose public schools are controlled by the Mayor, not the people. The Mayor has used this power to close an unprecedented number of public schools, despite the protests of students and parents. He has used this power to cut essential programs and services. He has used this power to do what he wants regardless of public opinion. Chicago should have democracy in education, just like every other district in the state.
Garcia has pledged to limit testing to the minimum required by law. He understands that testing is not teaching, and that testing consumes time and resources that should be devoted to instruction. The children of Chicago need more time for the arts, for learning foreign languages, for civics, and for science, not for testing. Garcia knows that parents, students, and teachers are tired of seeing the tests–which are a single measure–used to label students and to grade teachers and schools. The tests now have far too much power in the lives of children, and they distort the real meaning of education.
I am very impressed by Chuy Garcia’s deep understanding of the needs of education today. He is a real reformer. His reforms will restore democracy in education; will restore true education–not test scores–as the center of school life; and prioritize the needs of children, not data.
Because I believe so deeply in the pledges he has made–and the actions he has taken to support his promises–I endorse Chuy Garcia with enthusiasm. If Chicagoans elect him, it will send a signal to the entire nation that the bold and misguided effort to privatize our public schools has failed, and that the people of Chicago intend to reclaim public education to its true purpose: equal opportunity for all the city’s children to learn and succeed.