Update: in a HUGE win, voters in Chicago voted to have an elected Chicago Board of Education (after 20 years of mayoral appointments.) From the Chicago Tribune:
Voters in 37 wards overwhelmingly endorsed an elected Chicago Board of
Education, according to preliminary tallies Tuesday, a non-binding
outcome that nonetheless promises to stoke a long-running debate over
the mayor's power to appoint board members.
In the 2012 general election, 89 percent of voters in five Chicago
wards approved a similar advisory referendum for an elected board.
this month, a Tribune poll also reflected broad support for the idea.
Seventy-six percent of voters said they favor an elected school board
while 14 percent backed an appointed board.
Gee, sounds like voters in Chicago want to democratically elect who represents them in school governance.
I tweeted this story to Mayor Murray and Rep. Eric Pettigrew (who is sponsoring a bill to allow the mayoral to appoint two members to the Seattle School Board).
end of update.
Why should you care that one-term Mayor of Chicago failed to win outright in his bid to continue on?
Because it had a lot to do with how he handled public education in Chicago.
His primary threat - early on - had been head of the Chicago teachers union (and force of nature) Karen Lewis. Unfortunately Lewis had a brain tumor and was didn't enter the race. (An early poll had shown that she had a good chance at unseating him.) That turn of events should have been enough for Emanuel to win.
And yet, it wasn't.
He needed to get 50% plus 1 and he would have taken the job outright. He had four challengers with a Cook County Commissioner, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, getting the most votes of any of them. (I have not met a guy named Chuy - pronounced Chewy - since high school in Arizona. Warms my heart.)
Emanuel had more than 45% of the vote with Garcia in second at 34% of the vote.
Make no mistake, Emanuel still has the most money but it must be humbling to have to keep fighting. I mean when you have Obama and Arne Duncan stumping for you and you still don't win? Then someone is not listening to the electorate.
In reading various articles on this story, the issue of how Emanuel treated public education in Chicago - as something of a personal fiefdom - may have really hurt him. He closed more public schools in one swoop than any mayor in history.
As well, Emanuel, who is white, seemingly alienated a lot of minority communities and Garcia may be able to capitalize on uniting those communities against Emanuel.
Going forward in Seattle, with huge and defining races coming up in both the City Council races and for the majority of School Board seats, this across-the-country race may be a harbinger of things to come.
That the Seattle City Council races are now district races increases both the focus on local issues AND what is happening in school communities.
That our School Board elections will come against the backdrop of two possible game-changers for SPS - mayoral appointment of two members and/or the splitting of the district in two - makes it vital to keep up with the election season.
We may be seeing more empowerment among groups who traditionally feel left out of these elections and their communities may be the ones to swing elections. We also may be seeing the City Council lean harder to the left; will that be the case for Seattle School Board elections?
Last thing - all this to and fro and churn may be playing right into the hands of one person. Mayor Ed Murray. He may be both openly but also quietly (in a behind-the-scenes kind of way) consolidating power. That will make it easier for him to direct the conversation on any subject including public education.