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Democrats for Education Reform Illinois endorses the following candidates:

Alderman Emma Mitts (37th)

Alderman Mitts has been a tireless advocate for her community.  She believes that all students deserve a high-quality education, which is why she championed increasing diversity in Chicago's best schools and expanding early education options for low-income children. Voters of the 37th ward need her continued leadership in increasing educational opportunities for families on the west side

Alderman Howard Brookins (21st)

Alderman Brookins has provided a critical voice in the City Council as an outspoken advocate for the residents of the 21st ward. While serving as the head of the Black Caucus, he has been one of the most prominent leaders in fighting for jobs and economic development on the South side of Chicago. Ald. Brookins is committed to making quality investments in education like expanding school options in his community. The 21st ward will be well served with another four years of his leadership.

Alderman John Pope (10th)

Alderman Pope has stood up for the children of Chicago time and again by championing initiatives that ensure a quality education for all. He knows that early childhood education is critical to future academic success, which is why he voted to expand pre-K to 2,600 low-income Chicago kids by issuing social impact bonds. Pope also has been a key supporter of the Chicago STAR Scholarship program, which provides scholarships in the form of tuition to qualifying high school graduates, making sure they can earn their associate degree without the burden of out of pocket costs. His commitment to improving Chicago’s schools makes him the best candidate to represent the people of the 10th ward.

 

Democrats for Education Reform also believes that the race in the 45th Ward is an opportunity to deny Alderman John Arena re-election and vote for change.

Alderman John Arena has spent his first term in office pandering to special interests rather than attending to the needs of the 45th Ward. The self-proclaimed "progressive" voted against expanding early childhood education for 2,600 students, and is more interested in standing on a soapbox than he was helping low-income children succeed. He consistently opposes the Mayor without providing any solutions of his own. Arena has refused to support common sense education reforms that will strengthen the 45th Ward, and relies solely on outside groups to support his divisive campaign tactics.


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DFER-IL Endorses Chicago's Champions of Education
February 6, 2015

 

 

Chicago’s Champions of Education

Democrats for Education Reform -Illinois (DFER-IL) has made several endorsements for the 2015 municipal elections. The candidates were evaluated on their responses to a questionnaire, as well as their public statements and city council votes. 

“The candidates we’re supporting in this election are champions of our public school children and they are fighting for higher standards in the classroom, accountability across the board and the assurance that every student - regardless of zipcode or income - has the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. Our students and our city deserve real progressive leadership from elected officials who will fight to expand pre-k, promote diversity in our best schools and push back against the special interests who want to inject politics into our school board.”

Rebeca Nieves-Huffman, DFER-IL state director

 

The endorsed candidates are:

Alderman JoAnn Thompson (16th)

Alderman Thompson has been fighting for Englewood in the city council since 2007. She has been a strong supporter of the longer school day in Chicago, more quality options for kids and expanding access to pre-k. She will continue to put her constituents first when it comes to improving education, eradicating gun violence and creating jobs. Her main opponent, Alderman Toni Foulkes, calls herself a progressive but voted against a plan to give thousands of children access to early childhood education. The 16th ward will be well served keeping Thompson in charge.

 

Alderman Emma Mitts (37th)

Alderman Mitts has been a tireless advocate for her community.  She believes that all students deserve a high-quality education, which is why she championed increasing diversity in Chicago's best schools and expanding early education options for low-income children. Voters of the 37th ward need her continued leadership in increasing educational opportunities for families on the west side

 

Michael Diaz, candidate 45th ward

Michael Diaz is a champion for Chicago's school children and if elected, will bring much needed progressive values to the city council. He supports the full school day and year and believes in promoting high-quality education options for our kids - regardless of background or zip code. Diaz also will fight for increased accountability across the board to ensure that every school is held to a higher standard. His opponent, Alderman John Arena, has given new meaning to the term “political pandering” in his first term in office. The self-proclaimed "progressive" voted against expanding early childhood education and was more interested in standing on a soapbox than he was helping low-income children succeed. Diaz is the new leader that the 45th ward deserves.

 

Alderman Will Burns (4th)

Will Burns is a true progressive who believes that regardless of life circumstances, nothing should stand in the way of every child’s right to a good education. Like President Obama, he believes in boosting classroom standards and expanding access to early education. He has fought for better jobs, safer streets and led the fight for a higher minimum wage. He is a leader in the Democratic Party in Chicago, and is strongly endorsed for re-election.

 

Alderman Michelle Harris (8th)

Alderman Harris believes in increasing high-quality education options for the kids in her ward - more seats at selective enrollment schools for African-Americans, more IB or STEM schools, or even more high-performing public charters. She knows that education at an early age is the key to success. That’s why she voted to increase access to pre-k services for thousands of low-income students in Chicago. If re-elected, Alderman Harris will continue to advocate on behalf of every child.

 

Alderman Patrick O’Connor (40th)

Alderman O’Connor has a proven track record of leadership on education in the City Council. For many years, he served as chair of the Committee on Education, directly working to improve Chicago's schools by supporting early childhood education and quality options for children and their families. He also worked in Springfield to create Local School Councils, which give Chicago parents and community members more say in how our schools are run. Very few have the variety of experience in education policy that Alderman O'Connor has and he is strongly endorsed by Democrats for Education Reform. His opponent, Dianne Daleiden does not offer any meaningful policies to improve education, and will not hold schools accountable for ensuring that our kids succeed.

 

Alderman Howard Brookins (21st)

Alderman Brookins has provided a critical voice in the City Council as an outspoken advocate for the residents of the 21st ward. While serving as the head of the Black Caucus, he has been one of the most prominent leaders in fighting for jobs and economic development on the South side of Chicago. Ald. Brookins is committed to making quality investments in education like expanding school options in his community. The 21st ward will be well served with another four years of his leadership.

 

Alderman Walter Burnett (27th)

Alderman Burnett has advocated for the West Side of Chicago exceptionally well in the City Council. While he's known for his sense of humor, there is nothing he takes more seriously than the education of Chicago's children and will continue to fight for more selective enrollment schools, charter schools, IB schools and STEM schools in his ward. Furthermore, he has been a leader in pushing for increased diversity in Chicago’s highest performing schools, a problem we will be tackling in the coming months. His opponent, Gabe Beukinga, lacks the leadership qualities that the residents of the 27th ward need.

 

Elise Doody-Jones, candidate 32nd ward

Elise Doody-Jones will be a passionate representative of the hard-working families of the 32nd ward, while avoiding the impotent criticism often touted as productive by her opponent, current Alderman Scott Waguespack. She knows the community, brick-by-brick, and understands the urgent need to improve the quality of education our students are receiving - from cradle to career. Her opponent often prefers the bright spotlight of the television camera then the crucible of tough decisions. The Alderman’s opposition to the city’s plan to give more than 2,600 preschoolers education opportunities otherwise denied to them highlights his preference for media attention and political opposition rather than results. The 32nd ward deserves a progressive, independent voice, and Doody-Jones will do more to affect change for her community, while focusing less on her media profile than the incumbent.

 

James Dukes, candidate 17th ward

James Dukes knows that a high quality education is the most important thing we can give Chicago's kids and he will make sure that this a top priority if elected to City Council. His vision for the 17th Ward includes expanding access to great schools and boosting graduation rates. Bishop Dukes is a passionate advocate for his community and has consistently shown great leadership when it comes to keeping our neighborhoods safe from violent crime. He is the best candidate to represent the people of Chicago's 17th Ward. While we appreciate Glenda Franklin’s viewpoints on education based on her questionnaire responses, Duke’s active in role in advocating for more quality public school options over the years makes him the clear choice.

 

Alderman John Pope (10th)

Alderman Pope has stood up for the children of Chicago time and again by championing initiatives that ensure a quality education for all. He knows that early childhood education is critical to future academic success, which is why he voted to expand pre-K to 2,600 low-income Chicago kids by issuing social impact bonds. Pope also has been a key supporter of the Chicago STAR Scholarship program, which provides scholarships in the form of tuition to qualifying high school graduates, making sure they can earn their associate degree without the burden of out of pocket costs. His commitment to improving Chicago’s schools makes him the best candidate to represent the people of the 10th ward.

 

Since 2012, DFER-IL has been working with elected officials, community groups, parents and students to build support for an education reform agenda in the city of Chicago. DFER also established an Independent Expenditure Committee to support elected officials and candidates who support their goals, and hold accountable those officials and candidates who oppose necessary reforms to CPS.

 

 

 




DFER-IL Announces Second Round Of 2015 Endorsements
January 16, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 16, 2015

DFER-IL Announces Second Round Of 2015 Endorsements 

Democrats for Education Reform -Illinois (DFER-IL) today released its second round of endorsements for the 2015 municipal elections. The candidates were evaluated on their responses to a questionnaire, as well as their public statements and City Council votes.

“Our children’s education future is at stake in this election in every ward and neighborhood of this city,” Rebeca Nieves-Huffman, DFER-IL state director, said. “We are committed to bringing parents, students and teachers together to rally around candidates who will fight to ensure that Chicago can deliver a world-class education to our kids.”

The endorsed candidates are:

Alderman Patrick O’Connor (40th)

Alderman O’Connor has a proven track record of leadership on education in the City Council. For many years, he served as chair of the Committee on Education, directly working to improve Chicago's schools by supporting early childhood education and quality options for children and their families. He also worked in Springfield to create Local School Councils, which give Chicago parents and community members more say in how our schools are run. Very few have the variety of experience in education policy that Alderman O'Connor has and he is strongly endorsed by Democrats for Education Reform. His opponent, Dianne Daleiden does not offer any meaningful policies to improve education, and will not hold schools accountable for ensuring that our kids succeed.

Alderman Howard Brookins (21st)

Alderman Brookins has provided a critical voice in the City Council as an outspoken advocate for the residents of the 21st ward. While serving as the head of the Black Caucus, he has been one of the most prominent leaders in fighting for jobs and economic development on the South side of Chicago. Ald. Brookins is committed to making quality investments in education like expanding school options in his community. The 21st ward will be well served with another four years of his leadership.

Alderman Walter Burnett (27th)

Alderman Burnett has advocated for the West Side of Chicago exceptionally well in the City Council. While he's known for his sense of humor, there is nothing he takes more seriously than the education of Chicago's children and will continue to fight for more selective enrollment schools, charter schools, IB schools and STEM schools in his ward. Furthermore, he has been a leader in pushing for increased diversity in Chicago’s highest performing schools, a problem we will be tackling in the coming months. His opponent, Gabe Beukinga, lacks the leadership qualities that the residents of the 27th ward need.

Elise Doody-Jones, candidate 32nd ward

Elise Doody-Jones will be a passionate representative of the hard-working families of the 32nd ward, while avoiding the impotent criticism often touted as productive by her opponent,  current Alderman Scott Waguespack. She knows the community, brick-by-brick, and understands the urgent need to improve the quality of education our students are receiving - from cradle to career. Her opponent often prefers the bright spotlight of the television camera then the crucible of tough decisions. The Alderman’s opposition to the city’s plan to give more than 2,600 preschoolers education opportunities otherwise denied to them highlights his preference for media attention and political opposition rather than results. The 32nd ward deserves a progressive, independent voice, and Doody-Jones will do more to affect change for her community, while focusing less on her media profile than the incumbent.

James Dukes, candidate 17th ward  

James Dukes knows that a high quality education is the most important thing we can give Chicago's kids and he will make sure that this a top priority if elected to City Council. His vision for the 17th Ward includes expanding access to great schools and boosting graduation rates. Bishop Dukes is a passionate advocate for his community and has consistently shown great leadership when it comes to keeping our neighborhoods safe from violent crime. He is the best candidate to represent the people of Chicago's 17th Ward. While we appreciate Glenda Franklin’s viewpoints on education based on her questionnaire responses, Duke’s active in role in advocating for more quality public school options over the years makes him the clear choice.

DFER-IL also has endorsed education champions Ald. Will Burns (4th), Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16th), Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) and Michael Diaz, candidate 45th ward. 

Since 2012, DFER-IL has been working with elected officials, community groups, parents and students to build support for an education reform agenda in the city of Chicago. DFER also established an Independent Expenditure Committee to support elected officials and candidates who support their goals, and hold accountable those officials and candidates who oppose necessary reforms to CPS. 

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Making The Second City's Schools Second to None
September 22, 2014

In 2010, schools across Illinois were still reeling from the Great Recession. The Chicago Tribune reported that the crisis strained school budgets in Illinois so much that many were at a "breaking point." Across the state, teachers and parents worried that schools would not be able to open their doors, let alone improve their practice. Despite inheriting a school system in economic freefall, newly elected Mayor Rahm Emanuel did far more than confront budget challenges. In his first three years in office, Mayor Emanuel has secured more time for instruction, more public school options for parents, and more support for students.

Read "Making The Second City's Schools Second to None" here.




DFER-IL Calls On CTU President Karen Lewis To Choose Between Mayoral Candidate Or Lead Negotiator In New Teacher Contract
September 16, 2014

CONTACT:
Owen Kilmer | 708.560.3388 | Owen@dfer.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DFER-IL Calls On CTU President Karen Lewis To Choose Between Mayoral Candidate Or Lead Negotiator In New Teacher Contract

Chicago -- Democrats for Education Reform - Illinois (DFER-IL) today called on Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis to either declare her intentions to run for mayor of Chicago or step down from her post leading negotiations for a new teacher contract.

“With a $40,000 contribution to her mayoral campaign, President Lewis has made it clear she is running for Mayor, but she has also said that she will force negotiations over a new teacher’s contract this year,” DFER-IL State Director Rebeca Nieves-Huffman said. “Doing both would present nothing short of a conflict of interest. Chicagoans wouldn’t know whether President Lewis was representing her members, her political interests, or if she's using the negotiations merely as an extension of her campaign. If Karen Lewis truly cares about representing the interests of all Chicagoans, she should step down from her role as head of the CTU as she pursues a campaign for mayor.”

President Lewis has stated previously she will not agree to a contract renewal without providing any justification other than to score political points, such as in May when she said she was not “looking to make anybody’s election year easy at all.”

“Contract negotiations should be determined by what is best for our schools, our students, our teachers, and our city - not a vehicle for political agendas,” Huffman said. “Chicago students should not have to suffer because President Lewis wants to use contract negotiations as a political platform. She would be best serving her members, and the citizens of Chicago whose votes she is seeking, to pick one political role and devote her time and attention toward that.”

DFER-IL is urging President Lewis to make her decision by the end of the week in order to avoid a conflict of interest.

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DFER-IL’s Common Core Pop Quiz
May 21, 2014

CONTACT:
Owen Kilmer | 708.560.3388 | Owen@dfer.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DFER-IL’s Common Core Pop Quiz

Today, Democrats for Education Reform Illnois is releasing a pop quiz. Can you match the quote from a prominent Common Core critic to the speaker?

For months, Tea Party leaders have been criticizing the Common Core curriculum as a federal takeover of education, with some states even opting-out of its adoption. The Common Core State Standards were established to make sure that American children have the necessary skills and learning to compete against their peers around the world. 

[Note: extra credit for identifying the only Democrat in the group]

Speakers:

A. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

B. Governor Mike Pence (R-Indiana)

C. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida)

D. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky)

E. Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin)

F. Governor Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana)

G. Glenn Beck (Conservative Radio Host)

H. Karen Lewis (President of the Chicago Teachers Union)

Quotes:

_____ 1. "There's got to be a way for us to put our fingerprints on it. The standards we have in the state should be driven by people…"

_____ 2. "Instead of teaching kids about our Constitution and our heritage, Common Core will teach students to be 'global citizens.' It gets worse. Common Core also mandates that school districts track everything about our nation’s children and report it back to the federal government."

_____ 3. "I don’t think the federal government has any role dictating the content of curricula. I think education is a state issue and a local issue, and ideally at the local level, because that way parents can have direct input and control of what’s being taught to their kids."

______ 4. "I'm from the school that believes education is a matter best left for local control. The notion of Washington determining curricula is something most states are simply not interested in. It's a non-starter…"

______ 5. "Besides being dumber, our kids are going to be indoctrinated with extreme leftist ideology."

______ 6. "To those who would have preferred that we deferred more to out of state experts from Washington, D.C., to the East Coast to the West Coast, I ask, isn’t that the kind of elitist thinking that got us Common Core in the first place?"

______ 7. "I agree with educators and parents from across the country, the Common Core mandate represents an overreach of federal power into personal privacy as well as into state educational autonomy."

______ 8. "This effort to coerce states into adhering to national curriculum standards is not the best way to help our children attain the best education. Empowering parents, local communities and the individual states is the best approach."

Answer key:

1: E
2: D
3: A
4: F
5: G
6: B
7: H
8. C

“I’m disappointed that Karen Lewis would take sides with the Tea Party, and not President Obama, by attempting to throw out consistent education standards that will ensure our kids have the skills to pursue higher education and be successful in the 21st century economy,” said Rebeca Nieves-Huffman, State Director of Democrats for Education Reform - Illinois. “As a mother of two, I’m appalled that the CTU would let political gamesmanship with City Hall trump the need for a more rigorous curriculum in every classroom. Our kids deserve better.”

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