Where Chicago’s Mayoral Candidates Stand on Charter Public Schools

Tuesday, February 26th, is the primary election for Mayor of Chicago. The top two candidates will advance to a runoff, head-to-head race.

The Chicago Sun-Times published statements made by the candidates about charter public schools, which we’ve excerpted here. While Elevate Chicago does not endorse candidates, we want to make sure our coalition is informed about where each candidate stands on our schools.

  • Gery Chico, Attorney and former Mayoral Candidate and Chair of CPS board: “It is no secret that I have been involved with and helped found many charter schools throughout the city. I believe charter schools can be an effective tool to address situational needs in individual neighborhoods.”
  • Bill Daley, former Chief of Staff to Pres. Obama and U.S. Secretary of Commerce: “It’s time to move beyond the debate of charters vs. traditional public schools and recognize that they are all public schools. Parents just want a good school and the debate should focus on what is in the best interests of kids. Charter schools offer different learning options for families. They offer laboratories of innovation from which the traditional system can learn.”
  • Amara Enyia, Policy Consultant and Director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce: “Rather than private sector on-ramps that use public resources to generate profit (to the detriment of predominantly underserved children of color) charter schools are most appropriate for piloting and evaluating education innovation approaches that increase education quality.”
  • Bob Fioretti, Law partner, Roth Fioretti LLC: “Charter schools have a role to play in that parents who are unhappy with their educational choices should have an opportunity to choose a different school for their children. I support, however, the current recommendation for a moratorium on new charter school applications until at least a new Mayor has been chosen and a comprehensive education strategy can be implemented.”
  • LaShawn Ford, State Representative (8th District): “Charter schools can create a view that neighborhood schools are the selection of last resort. This seems to have, in cases, weakened our neighborhood public schools, and contributed to the epidemic of school closures. We may have enough charter schools for now, and we need renewed attention to our neighborhood schools”
  • Jerry Joyce: “Nationwide charter schools in large part resulted from the dissatisfaction with the public school system. The question is, does Chicago want a neighborhood public school system? I am in favor of that.”
  • Jon Kenneth Kozlar, Attorney: “Competition within our education system is much needed, so that schools in every area can be good schools. Some students simply may not want to attend a public school or a charter school, so we should make it possible for them to receive the best education as possible”
  • Lori Lightfoot, former President of the Chicago Police Board and Federal Prosecutor: “I support a freeze on new charter schools. We must hold existing charter schools accountable for educating our children just as we do Chicago Public Schools. We must change the relationship between CPS and charters. Charters play a significant role in the education of our children, but CPS’ approach is often to treat charters like just another vendor. That must change.”
  • Garry McCarthy, former Chicago Police Superintendent: “My views on charter schools have evolved since I’ve observed more labor union involvement in charter school employee negotiations. I now believe that charter schools can be good neighborhood schools, especially in communities where neighborhood schools have been closed.”​
  • Susana Mendoza, Illinois Comptroller: “While my focus will be on empowering CPS principals and teachers, charter schools have historically played a role in testing new educational models that, if successful, can be scaled to larger districts charter schools have historically played a role in testing new educational models that, if successful, can be scaled to larger districts. Charters can remain a piece of that overall strategy when needed, as long as they are held accountable to the same high standards and do not divert resources from our neighborhood schools.”
  • Toni Preckwinkle, President of Cook County Board: “During the last administration, charters have become a weapon for corporate privatization of education. … I support a freeze on any new charter schools until a fully elected school board can be implemented.”
  • Paul Vallas, former CEO of CPS and onetime City Budget Director: “Charter schools are public schools without some of the state and local collective bargaining restrictions that impede their ability to do innovative things that can help improve education services. They are also vehicles to expand school choices for families that do not have the means to secure other options.”
  • Willie Wilson, Businessman and former Mayoral Candidate: “Clearly we need a complete overhaul of our system as well as our expectations and accountability.”


We do not verify the accuracy of the candidate’s statements as presented here and instead are displaying them as published by the Sun-Times.