Notable & Quotable: Chicago’s Mayoral Race
‘They’re literally taking teachers’ money to fund [Brandon Johnson’s] campaign when the teachers don’t even got pencils to give their damn kids.’
March 19, 2023 5:20 pm ET
Ja’Mal Green speaks in Chicago, Dec. 19, 2022.
Ja’Mal Green, a Chicago community activist and unsuccessful candidate for mayor, in a March 16 video endorsing Paul Vallas over Brandon Johnson in the April 4 runoff:
When they talk about “progressivism,” the white progressives who are leading the movement for Brandon, they never came into the neighborhoods on the South and West sides in the first damn place. So you want me to take your advice when you, or your candidate, or your union have never supported black youth in this city.
I’m not scared of you, and I don’t give a damn about what people say about me, because my record speaks for itself and no one owns me. Paul Vallas ain’t got enough money to give me. Paul—a job—ain’t enough money in that for me. I got my own everything, so I can say and do what I want. And I’m going to tell you the truth. None of these people give a damn about your black children. None of these people give a damn about the fact that these kids are out here carjacking at 12 years old, at 13 years old.
None of these white people on the North Side that’s supporting Brandon, not the damn teacher’s union, who is using 80% of their money to be in politics. Eighty percent of all teacher union dues don’t go to s— but politics. Look it up. They’re literally taking teachers’ money to fund his campaign when the teachers don’t even got pencils to give their damn kids. You want me to be honest, I’ll be honest with you. These young people aren’t in his classroom. They don’t even got damn notebooks, but millions and millions of dollars go through that damn union, and they don’t get them a dollar to help that damn classroom. Because it’s all about power. That’s what it’s about. That’s all it’s about. All of this stuff is about power and who is going to take the power. They fought against Lori Lightfoot for four years, so they can take the damn power from her because their candidate lost.
Appeared in the March 20, 2023, print edition as 'Notable & Quotable: Chicago'.
The Chicago Teachers Union Power Play
The CTU is on the mayoral ballot in the name of Brandon Johnson.
By The Editorial Board, WSJ
Whatever happens in the Chicago mayoral election, voters can never unsee what they’ve witnessed from the Chicago Teachers Union, as it throws its feverish support to progressive candidate Brandon Johnson. The union’s falling approval ratings may be a leading indicator that Chicago voters understand the power grab at stake on April 4.
In two recent polls by IZQ Strategies, respondents were asked their view of the CTU, the longtime power in city politics. In January 57% of likely voters said they had a favorable view of the union. By February that number had sunk to less than half, while unfavorables rose.
The reason is poor results in Chicago schools combined with the spectacle of millions of dollars flowing from the CTU to support the candidate it knows will do its bidding in contract negotiations in 2024. If the union can get Mr. Johnson to City Hall, it will sit on both sides of the negotiating table.
More than 95% of Mr. Johnson’s campaign contributions so far have come from the unions. The CTU and its political action committee have given Mr. Johnson more than $2 million and even dipped into the pot of individual teachers dues to give him an extra boost before the April 4 runoff. Some CTU members publicly objected to the transaction that used members’ dues money outside the portion that is typically earmarked for political contributions.
The spectacle angered former mayoral candidate and community activist Ja’Mal Green, who noted on Twitter that the union is spending lavishly on Mr. Johnson’s campaign instead of putting children first. “None of these people give a damn about your black children,” Mr. Green said. “All of this stuff is about power.”
He’s right. Mr. Green endorsed the other runoff candidate Paul Vallas, a former schools superintendent who supports more charters schools for the city. Some 83% of Chicago students graduate from high school but less than a third are proficient in reading or math on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, according to Wirepoints and Illinois Report Card data.
Mr. Johnson collected a CTU salary while he was Cook County Commissioner, and the Illinois Policy Institute reports that he has continued to accrue a CTU pension that will likely be worth millions of dollars, though he only taught briefly in the public schools.
Polls show the Chicago runoff is close. If Mr. Johnson wins, government unions will continue to run the city, and the teachers union will run the schools to the detriment of students and the city’s future.