Lightfoot education agenda: Pre-K expansion, moratorium on school closures

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Mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot | Sun-Times file photo

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Mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot aims to make structural and racial inequities in the Chicago Public Schools system “disappear” in part by expanding preschool education programs and mental health services with “trauma-informed” instruction.

The former federal prosecutor and Chicago Police Board president has also called for an elected city school board and a moratorium on school closures and new charter schools, as part of a 15-point education plan that pushes to have a high-performing school in every neighborhood.

“We need to get back to basics and focus on what is going to improve our current schools,” Lightfoot said. “Every dollar that goes to a charter school is a dollar taken away from neighborhood schools. Let’s maintain the status quo for the time being and focus on improvement.”

Lightfoot suggested a pilot early childhood care and education program in disadvantaged parts of the city, where studies have shown kids start kindergarten behind their peers in math and reading.

With individualized assessments in each “Early Education Zone,” qualifying families would have free access to in-center care placed in closed CPS facilities or neighborhood schools, partnering with community day care centers.

Lightfoot said state and federal funds would help pay for the program, along with selling unused CPS property. More support could come from “the business and philanthropic communities,” Lightfoot said.

The plan also calls for race and bias training for teachers, as well as ongoing training on how to interact with students dealing with trauma in violence-plagued neighborhoods.

Lightfoot said she’d put an emphasis on hiring more teachers of color, especially through teacher residency programs with City Colleges and other partnering four-year universities. She said she’d also push for expanded technical training programs, and boost numbers of social workers, librarians and school nurses.

And she wants to provide CTA fare cards for CPS students, paid for by taxing suburban ride-hailing drivers who operate in the city, along with working to restore state subsidies to the transit agency.

Lightfoot’s education agenda

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