Garry on Education


Garry McCarthy’s Neighborhood Schools Reinvestment Plan

Reversing Rahm’s Disinvestment Campaign That Shut Down a Record Number of Chicago’s Neighborhood Schools and Reinvesting in Our Most Vulnerable Communities


Rahm Emanuel’s disastrous school closure strategy has failed our children, killed opportunities, and sapped the life out of neighborhoods by disinvesting millions of dollars in school funding away from the communities that need it most.

  • From 2013 to 2018 Rahm closed 57 schools, uprooting and endangering more than 12,000 children from their neighborhood schools;
  • Rahm put a target on south and west side communities, closing 27 schools — nearly half of all schools closed, in just five south and west side wards;
  • In these five wards alone Rahm disinvested nearly $90,000,000 of budget investments away from struggling communities;
  • Under Rahm’s failed leadership, over 100 CPS high schools provide no technical career training, leaving 47,000 students with fewer opportunities for viable career pathways.
  • Rahm’s school closures severely undermined special education cluster programs, while his $38 million in cuts to special education continues to deny students with special needs their right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

Garry McCarthy will condemn and reverse Rahm’s disinvestment campaign by modernizing our education infrastructure and reinvesting in neighborhood schools.

  • Garry McCarthy will ensure wrap around services in “community schools” that leverage neighborhood schools as a resource for students and local families;
  • Garry McCarthy will reinvest in neighborhood schools using the proceeds from sales of closed schools, currently estimated at $32 million;
  • Garry McCarthy will advocate for Chicago’s special needs students, women and children by throwing the weight of the mayor’s office behind the fight to end draconian cuts to special education, childcare and early childhood learning funds;
  • Garry McCarthy will initiate a partially-elected school board where three members are elected by neighborhood voters and three are appointed by the mayor;  
  • Garry McCarthy will bring accredited training in the trades to all CPS high schools by initiating innovative public-private partnerships.

Our Kids Can’t Wait

Chicago students are fighting to get ahead in the face of the city’s mean-spirited and aggressive campaign to disinvest from them, their neighborhood schools and the families who rely on them. Garry McCarthy’s Neighborhood Schools Reinvestment Plan reinforces Garry’s commitment to Chicago’s children, teachers and families and pushes back against a future that shutters their schools and shuts out students from real world opportunities to get ahead in life.

Our children can’t wait to get ahead, it’s time to start reinvesting in our kids and neighborhoods, and the schools and teachers that have historically helped them thrive.

Rahm’s Record of Neglect of CPS Students & Chicago Neighborhoods

Rahm’s wrong-headed school closure strategy has uprooted more than 12,000 children from their home schools and disinvested struggling neighborhoods of their most reliable community resource. Thousands of children have been traumatized by the move, and put directly in the firing line of our already violent streets by having to travel outside of their own community to go to distant schools, sometimes miles away from familiar surroundings, leaving too many to struggle academically in unfamiliar learning environments. It’s not just the students who suffer, neighborhood economies are further depressed by the disinvestment of millions of dollars in job wages and consumer traffic taken out of the community thanks to closed neighborhood schools.

The Days of Using CPS & Our Children as Political Pawns Are Over

Rahm Emanuel and Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the mayor’s corrupt former CEO of CPS, contrived a pretext for closing scores of schools and laying off hundreds of teachers as a political move to weaken the teachers union and disempower aldermen who might stand up to the mayor. Following Byrd-Bennett’s disgraceful departure and criminal indictment, her successor, Mayoral fixer and political ally Forrest Claypool, also left government under the stench of wrongdoing–accused by the CPS Inspector General of a “full-blown cover up.”

Claypool left behind a cleanliness audit plan designed to provide independent oversight for the effective sanitation and cleanliness of CPS schools. The plan and the firm hired to carry it out failed in spectacular fashion.

Overwhelmed by rampant corruption, CPS began inspecting its own schools for cleanliness — which had been passing independent cleanliness audits — and uncovered filthy floors, unhealthy food-service equipment and odorous bathrooms at 91 of the 125 schools it examined. Even more disturbing, we now learn that CPD has  investigated more than 500 cases of sexual assault against CPS students, often at the hands of the very CPS staff charged with keeping them safe. What continues to be Rahm’s most egregious failure is our children facing threats of handgun violence in and around school grounds–a threat exacerbated by students forced to walk across gang-lines just to get to a new school as a result of Rahm’s school closures.

Garry McCarthy: “I Believe in Neighborhood Schools”

Garry McCarthy’s Neighborhood Schools Reinvestment Plan starts with building a more modern, more equitable education infrastructure that supports families where they live and engages all community stakeholders to “wrap around” our children with the resources they need to achieve their life goals.

Garry McCarthy’s Neighborhood Schools Reinvestment Plan meets head-on four important challenges caused or worsened by the mayor’s rampage against neighborhood schools.

  • Out-migration & low enrollment: Out-migration of Chicago families — African American families in particular — has been the main driver behind low school enrollment. This out-migration is shrinking our tax base and forcing families who stick it out to carry a disproportionate burden.  It is tantamount to punishing the victim. We should not disinvest from communities suffering population loss, but rather reinvest in them to retain and attract small businesses and economic opportunities for families to live and work here.
  • Open new pathways to career success: The overall college enrollment rate of CPS graduates is 60%. We must create viable career pathways for the 40% of CPS graduates who choose a path other than college. CPS’s Career Technical Education (CTE) programs offer a wealth of learning opportunities, but 109 CPS high schools offer no CTE programs at all; leaving about 47,000 students without with limited viable career pathways.
  • Reverse the $90,000,000 in crippling disinvestment from the south and west sides: From 2013 to 2018, nearly half of all school closures happened in just five wards on the south and west sides–mainly the 3rd and 28th wards. Based on previous budgets of the schools closed in these wards, over Rahm’s six-year reign of disinvestment, the mayor snatched nearly $90,000,000 away from these communities.
  • Attacks on student achievement: Rahm’s school closures have worsened students’ academic performance. According to the UChicago Consortium for School Research, “When schools closed, it severed the longstanding social connections that families and staff had with their schools and with one another, resulting in a period of mourning. Students affected by school closures experienced negative learning effects, especially students from closed schools. The largest negative impact of school closures was on the test scores of students from closed schools.”

Garry McCarthy’s Plan to Modernize & Reinvest in

Chicago’s Neighborhood Schools

Modernizing CPS begins with a partially-elected school board whose members are held accountable by Chicago voters. Local school board officials are elected throughout Illinois, only in Chicago are they appointed by, beholden to and essentially directed by the mayor.

After leading CPD with one hand tied behind his back, Garry McCarthy knows the importance of joining accountability with the authority to effect the change parents, activists and students are yearning to see in Chicago schools. That is why Garry supports a partially-elected school board; as mayor, Garry would appoint half of the board members and maintain some responsibility for the school board’s decision-making, while the other three board members would be elected by Chicago voters.

Garry McCarthy refuses to play politics with education policy while Chicago students struggle in a broken school system. That’s why Garry McCarthy’s Neighborhood Schools Reinvestment Plan will be led by a task force of officials elected by and accountable to Chicago voters.

Modern, Sustainable, SMART Schools.

SMART Schools are Sustainable and energy efficient, Modern, Accountable, Results-Driven/Evidence-Based and Technology proficient.

Garry McCarthy’s vision for a modern education infrastructure entails a lighter footprint, removes all environmental toxins from school buildings, is constructed along neighborhood transportation lines and designed to administer holistic community resources to local families.

Charter Schools as SMART Neighborhood Schools. Garry McCarthy strongly believes charter schools can be great neighborhood schools, especially in communities where neighborhood schools have been closed. Charter schools have demonstrated the ability to provide high-quality education opportunities particularly for Black and Latino students whose neighborhood schools may have been closed or underperforming. That’s why Garry will partner with non-profit charter school organizations to expand SMART schools into communities that need them most.

SMART Schools have smart Local School Councils (LSC). More than half of all LSC’s have council seat vacancies, particularly on Chicago’s south and west sides. Garry McCarthy’s LSC Academy for Community Engagement will not only recruit parents and student representatives to serve on the LSC, but also train them on education policy, funding, curricula, school security and leading-edge learning technologies, so they can serve with confidence in their education knowledge-base.

Garry McCarthy’s 10-Point Action Plan to Revive Chicago’s Network of Neighborhood Schools

  1. Partially-Elected School Board: Garry McCarthy supports a partially-elected school board where three members are elected by Chicago voters and three are appointed by the mayor. Also, Garry will implement a transparent decision-making process that more rigorously tracks and reports individual board members’ statements, votes and official actions.

  2. Honest, Transparent Assessment of Chicago Schools: No more cooking the books. Garry will issue year-round quarterly assessments of school and student performance to enable real-time course corrections in education policy, funding and curricula. Such assessments will hold janitors accountable for school cleanliness, teachers accountable for high-quality instruction, parents accountable as their children’s “first teacher,” principals and admin staff accountable for upholding standards of excellence and the Mayor and his staff accountable for leading the way on fairness, transparency and honesty in public education.

  3. Mayor McCarthy’s Neighborhood Schools Reinvestment Task Force: As mayor, McCarthy will move quickly to assemble a task force led by those aldermen whose wards are most severely impacted by Rahm’s school closures; along with parents, education advocates, clergy and community and business leaders. Garry will implement an “all hands on deck” approach to rebuilding Chicago’s education infrastructure. If our children are the most precious members of our community, then the entire community must be mobilized to enrich, empower and protect them.

  4. Provide Support Staff for Teachers: Garry is committed to supporting teachers with the in-class and building staff support they need so they can focus on teaching children. Cuts to support staff has over-burdened teachers with more responsibilities detracting them from their primary role as instructor. That’s why Garry will bring back support staff, including counselors, clerks, security personnel and classroom assistants.

  5. Ensure a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for Students with Special Needs: No classroom staff is more important than those who help students with special needs reach their life potential. As mayor, Garry will audit CPS’s budget cuts to special education and implement an evidence-based reinvestment plan focused on student’s needs. Garry will enforce the state’s 30% legal classroom limit of students with IEPs; and balance inclusion of special needs students into mainstream classrooms with an absolute commitment to ensuring they have all the special supports they need.

  6. Chicago’s Neighborhood Schools Reinvestment Fund (NSRF): A percentage of proceeds from the sale of closed schools will go to the NSRF. This fund, stewarded by Mayor McCarthy’s reinvestment task force, will be the primary payor for new neighborhood SMART schools, leading-edge learning technologies, rigorous program evaluations and state-of-the art security technology to keep our children safe.

  7. Chicago Neighborhood SMART Schools: Where Rahm has disinvested, Garry McCarthy will reinvest–starting with communities abandoned by Rahm’s school closure strategy. SMART schools are smaller, high-tech learning centers, where water and interior materials are lead-free, powered energy-neutral, featuring culturally-relevant curricula that are also trauma-informed to address social-emotional needs.

  8. Chicago Community Schools: Garry McCarthy applauds CTU’s commitment to community schools, a proven model providing programs and services that address the mental, physical, and emotional development of students and their families. A critical pillar in Garry McCarthy’s neighborhood schools reinvestment strategy is maximizing the positive collective impact of neighborhood organizations on students’ academic and personal growth. Leveraging funds from the NSRF, Garry McCarthy will expand on CTU’s 20 “Sustainable Community Schools” to organize 50 community schools in his first term as mayor.

  9. Champion for Early Childhood Funding: Garry McCarthy will be a champion for families needing supports during those critical infant-to-toddler years. Garry is a fighter who will work on behalf of Chicago families to secure funding for programs like Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and Pre-School For All (PFA), both of which are funding-insecure.

  10. Viable Career Pathways: Garry’s leadership on education extends through CPS to Chicago Community Colleges (CCC), where he will develop seamless pathways from high school to training and viable career options by ensuring all CPS high schools have Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and accredited trades training. Garry McCarthy believes a CPS diploma should represent real economic value in the job market, if not establish a training foundation that prepares CPS graduates for more advanced training at CCC and other local trade schools.



Paid for by GMFM – Garry McCarthy for Mayor.

A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board’s official website ( or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.