Mayoral Forums Hit Town... Wednesday at Walter Payton HS on Wells St, Thursday at Operating Engineers Union Hall on Grove Ave.

The mayoral candidates are going to square off this week in back-to-back events to debate the issues affecting public educaton in the city. The Chicago Teachers Union will host the Mayoral Candidates Forum on Public Education this Thursday, December 16 2010, at 6 pm at the Operating Union Engineers Hall, 2260 S. Grove Ave. Mayor candidates Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, State Sen. Rev. James Meeks, City Clerk Miguel Del Valle and US Rep. Danny Davis are confirmed guests at the event that will be moderated by WVON's Cliff Kelly. Those who wish to attend the event are asked to contact the Chicago Teachers Union at to be sure to get a seat.

Chicago's Office of the Mayor on the 5th Floor of Chicago's City Hall is regularly the scene of major media events. One such, above, took place on October 7, 2009, when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder came to Chicago to announce that the federal government was providing Chicago with more than $60 million to reduce "youth violence" following the murder of Fenger High School student Derrion Albert. Albert's murder became an international scandal because a fellow student made a videotape of the actual killing during a street fight using a camera phone. Substance photo from the October 7 event by George N. Schmidt.The CTU event will follow a mayor education forum sponsored by the "Raise Your Hand" coalition on Wednesday, December 15, at 7pm at Walton Payton High School. At the December 15 event, Davis, Del Valle, Moseley Braun, Meeks, and former Chicago school board president Gery Chico will attend. Chico is still undecided about attending the CTU event the next night. The Raise You Hand forum will be moderated by former ABC TV political reporter Andy Shaw.

The leading business and Daley backed candidate Rahm Emanuel will be conspicously absent from both events. Emanuel never responded to the CTU's invitation, while he declined the event at Walter Payton.

Emanuel seems to be focused on opposing public education and the teachers union by refusing to debate the issues and thus risk losing the votes of many public education supporters. While being attacked for not sending his children to public schools (Mayor Daley never did either), Emanuel stated recently, according to Progress Illinois, that he would target 35 public schools to be turnarounds in his first term, a highly contentious issue in which the entire staff at the school is terminated and a private management company is invited in to run the school.

"We have received hundreds of emails from parents and voters who are outraged at Mr. Emanuel’s decision to not participate in a forum dedicated specifically to the issue they care most about and that he himself has been hanging his hat on," said Wendy Katten, founding member of the Raise Your Hand Coalition. "The other candidates are thrilled to have the opportunity to discuss their plans for education. Mr. Emanuel has placed significant emphasis on the importance of parent involvement in the improvement of the Chicago education system, yet he has opted out of an event organized by the exact people of whom he speaks."

In a city that that is still filled with many unionized workers, the other candidates will be touting their willingness to work with the teachers union and defend public education.

Davis will no doubt tout his background as a teacher and the fact that he knew the importance of a union when he discovered the janitor was making more money than him. He also attended a CTU press event demanding that CPS release the Teacher Jobs Bill money the US Congress passed to hire back all the teachers who were layed off over the summer due to the budget crisis.

Del Valle will tout his union credentials by noting he is one of the only candidates who attended the CTU's October LEAD dinner which honored the politicians and endorsed those who support public school issues.

A few interesting twists will be in store.

The Rev. Meeks has suddenly reversed himself and become a believer in the CTU and its almost 30,000 members by stating on a video on his website that he will work with the Chicago Teachers Union to make sure every child has an excellent education. Meeks will most likely have to answer questions then about why he refused to apologize for comparing the CTU to the worst gang in the city of Chicago earlier in the year. It should make for great theater at least in a union hall where there will be sitting many teachers who he claimed are worse than murderers and rapists.

Then there is Dock Walls, the perennial mayoral candidate and political activist who could play the role of the aggressive independent candidate who has not been compromised by Chicago politics because he has never held an elective office. In the spirit of true democracy, the CTU is contemplating inviting Walls, opening up the field to another candidate not blessed by big money interests or electoral name recognition.

According to one of his campaign volunteers, Walls as mayor will not fire one public service employee, a pledge not different from Governor Pat Quinn's promise to one of the unions to not lay off any state workers. This is certainly welcome to many of those voting, save the relatively small number of business execs who make money when labor costs are kep low.

One of the shams of the US presidential elections was the Federal Election Commission — which is controlled by the Republican and Democrat parties — preventing independent candidates like Ralph Nader the opportunity to debate and raise issues affecting the people that the two party candidates never had to address.

The CTU forum will include questions such as what is the candidates qualification to run the schools (the mayor controls the Chicago Public Schools), how will they fund and improve the schools and what do they think about an elected school board, TIFs, school vouchers, charters and union rights.

Both forums will center on the core issues surrounding public education in Chicago including funding, infrastructure, learning time, security and labor issues. Candidates will have the opportunity to present opening and closing remarks and will be called upon by the moderators to answer specific questions throughout the discussion.

The 1.5 hour debate at Walter Payton College Prep (1034 N. Wells St.) on Wednesday is sold out and walk-ins will not be allowed in, but a live webcast will be available at The event will be recorded and rebroadcast at a later date by CAN-TV, according to a Raise Your Hand press release.

Questions will also come directly from students who attend Walter Payton College Prep, Raise Your Hand stated.

Raise Your Hand (RYH) is a growing coalition of parents and organizations that are collaborating to influence the public sector to enact changes that will result in appropriate, equitable and sustainable funding for public education. RYH works to create a long-term education funding framework, which, along with the CTU, challenged Mayor Daley's TIF slush fund that was holding back tax dollars from the schools during the budget crisis last fiscal year.

Raise Your Hand claimed that over 25,000 RYH participants worked this year to galvanize the parent population in Chicago and sent over 160,000 messages on education funding issues to legislators and aldermen. Members include parents, students, teachers, administrators and community members who believe that fair and equitable funding is a core component in providing an "outstanding" public education, its press release stated.

The Chicago Teachers Union elected a new leadership team that has also challenged Mayor Daley's TIF funding problem, and Race to the Top, which wants to increase the number of charter schools, although research has shown overall they do no better than public schools. The CTU claims more than 29,000 members and for the first time in over 20 years has become active in local municipal elections.

The CTU still has seats available (the location is much bigger than the Walter Payton auditorium), and encourages all those who want the best public education available for the students of Chicago to attend.

The CTU mayoral forum is co-sponsored by the Cook County College Teachers Union (Local 1600, AFT) the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 143, and Access Living.

The Raise Your Hand forum is co-sponsored by the Northside Democracy for America and the Illinois Policy Institute.


December 13, 2010 at 12:09 AM

By: Jim Cavallero

Rahm's avoidance of the forums

It is interesting that Rahm Emmanuel has said no to Raise Your Hand and ignored the CTU's invitation. I tend to think that many of the people that belong to Raise Your Hand were his former constituents when he was representative from the 5th district. Also, the 5th district is home to a large number of teachers and school personnel. The very people that he is snubbing are probably many of the same people that put him in office and kept him in office.

December 13, 2010 at 7:33 AM

By: Al Korach

Mayoral Debate

After the debates are over you have to remember--- How can you tell if a politician is not telling the truth? answer-Their lips move!!!

December 13, 2010 at 11:51 AM

By: Issues with Stand in Denver

now they are in Illinois

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