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Who’s best for Chicago schools? A Chalkbeat voter guide to the 2019 mayor’s race

Chicago’s next mayor faces many critical decisions regarding Chicago Public Schools, from charter expansion to schools chief Janice Jackson’s job status. How to distinguish the many candidates from one another and understand their views?

To help voters, Chalkbeat Chicago compiled this guide culling candidates’ responses to education-related questions.

No surprise that the would-be mayors split most clearly on whether Chicago should elect its school board members or whether the mayor should continue to appoint them. All of the candidates promised they wouldn’t open new charter schools, except Bill Daley and Paul Vallas, who said “maybe.” All but two of the candidates refused to say whether or not they would keep Jackson as schools chief, signaling an uncertain fate for the former principal and teacher who is entering her second year on the job. Only Amara Enyia and Gery Chico gave a specific response; Enyia said no and Chico said yes. (To read why, look up their full responses below.)

Where candidates stand on three big education issues

Candidate How should the school board be selected? Would you open new charter schools? Would you retain CEO Janice Jackson?
Gery Chico Partially appointed, partially selected by school councils No Yes
Bill Daley Partially appointed, partially selected by school councils Maybe Prefer not to say
Bob Fioretti Partially elected, partially appointed No Undecided
LaShawn K Ford Fully elected No Undecided
Jerry Joyce Partially elected, partially appointed No Undecided
Lori Lightfoot Fully elected No Prefer not to say
Susana Mendoza Partially elected, partially appointed No Prefer not to say
Toni Preckwinkle Fully elected No Undecided
Paul Vallas Partially elected, partially appointed Maybe Undecided
Willie Wilson Fully elected No Undecided
No Response
Neal Sáles-Griffin No Response
John Kozlar No Response
Garry McCarthy No Response

We also quizzed candidates on some more nuanced questions: Would they close more schools and if not, how would they handle the hundreds of under-utilized campuses?

And in a still segregated city with a history of racial inequity, how would the next mayor boost achievement of black and brown students?

Also, would they continue Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s rollout of universal pre-K, a popular at initiative that promises educational payoffs but carries a hefty price tag?

Early voting starts Jan. 29. The general election is Feb. 26. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the top two candidates will enter a runoff election that takes place April 2.

Use the tool below to peruse where candidates stand on these issues and more. Scroll down to see every candidate’s response, or click on individual names to narrow the field.

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