I’m not going to speculate about what their motivations are, but I don’t believe that’s correct. I mean, if you look at their spending, there’s a real clear indication of what their larger ambitions are.
Which are what?
I think, ultimately, they’d like to take over not only Chicago Public Schools, but take over running the city government. That’ll play itself out over time. I don’t really spend time, and certainly not in the middle of a pandemic, worrying about the politics. But politics intrudes, always.
I have noticed that some big cities with mayoral control of schools are open or moving toward concrete reopening plans. And some big cities with school boards, like Los Angeles or San Francisco or Seattle, seem stuck. In the past, you supported bringing back an elected school board. Where do you stand on that now?
We would never have opened without mayoral control. It’s quite clear. The fact that L.A. and San Francisco had to sue to force the conversation about reopening? Look, what’s easy, the path of least resistance, the political expediency, would have been to do nothing and just let the unions dictate what the state of play was going to be in education. That’s never, ever going to be the path that I take.
For a lot of families, it will be frustrating that this deal paves the way to only part-time school. And also that high-school students are not yet scheduled to return to classrooms at all.
I’m very focused on reopening high schools. High schools are more complicated, as you can imagine. Elementary schools can have the students in a pod stay static and have the teachers move. It is much more challenging to do that in a high school setting. But the archdiocese, which is, I think, the largest private school system in the country, along with a lot of other private schools, have had high schools open since September. There’s a lot that we can learn from their experience.
I want to see, in particular, seniors be able to come back together this year, so they have something of a normal senior year experience.