Education plan invests in CPS and City College students, renovates crumbling schools, and extends expansion of free Universal Pre-K

Chico To Expand CPS Technical And Vocational Education

Thursday, January 10, 2019

CHICAGO — Mayoral candidate Gery Chico on Tuesday rolled out an education plan that will not only improve the Chicago Public Schools system, but also create the largest ever expansion of technical and vocational opportunities for students, ultimately leading to apprenticeships and well-paying jobs for Chicago’s students.

“Four-year universities are not for everyone, and it’s time to get serious about providing education alternatives that will lead to substantial careers,” said Chico, former board president of CPS. “I am ready to invest in our students, staff and teachers. I’ll be ready on Day One to apply my experience and expertise to move CPS and City Colleges of Chicago in the right direction.”

Chico’s plan to make students college and career ready calls for:

  • Ensuring students receive apprenticeship certificates the day they graduate from high school.
  • Creating a pipeline between local companies and students at City Colleges of Chicago with “recruitment summits” on all seven campuses. The summits will connect students and graduates with potential part-time and full-time employment.
  • Expanding student support programs at the City Colleges to elevate graduation rates. Chico is a founding advisory board member of One Million Degrees (OMD), a scholarship model that provides tutoring, individual coaching and financial assistance to CCC students. OMD scholars carry a 78 percent retention rate and a graduation rate that is twice the state average.
  • Expanding the International Baccalaureate program from just 50 schools to 150 schools, allowing students to take advantage of an accelerated curriculum.

These are the types of improvements Chico will make as Chicago’s next mayor. He knows that families have lost faith in CPS, but he’s ready get it back on track.

As former President of the Chicago Public Schools, Chair of the City Colleges and Chair of the Illinois State Board of Education, Chico’s record of leadership in improving public education at every level is unmatched. He knows how to lift up our schools and our students — because he’s done it before.

Chico was CPS board president when the district built more than 60 neighborhood schools and turned a $1.3 billion deficit into a $345 million surplus. The district also saw improved student performance for six consecutive years. President Clinton described the CPS turnaround as a model for the nation.

He will do the same as mayor.

“Our neighborhood schools are the building blocks of our communities. Every student deserves to be in a new or renovated school with state-of-the-art infrastructure,” Chico said.

To strengthen our Chicago Public Schools, Chico will:

  • Empower parents to elect seven school board members out of 15 to allow parents’ voices to be heard, while ensuring special interests do not buy elections for their candidates.
  • Funding the recent expansion of free, universal, all-day Pre-kindergarten programs, giving our youngest learners a set of social and communication skills that is essential for building relationships and solving problems.
  • Fighting for capital money in Springfield in order to modernize and renovate schools in every neighborhood. Utilizing TIF funds for the construction of any new schools.
  • Upgrading every high school to include state-of-the-art science equipment and a lab layout that is designed to facilitate learning – especially with STEM curriculum. Gery worked with Mayor Emanuel to bring companies to CPS as STEM sponsors, and will work to increase those sponsorships and access to job opportunities.
  • Repurposing the 50 schools that were closed by CPS and now sit dormant, blighting our neighborhoods. Chico will turn these buildings into community centers, affordable housing, retail, mental health centers and job training sites.

Snapshot: Gery Chico’s Record on Education

Appointed President of the Chicago Public Schools 1995, and reappointed in 1999, Gery Chico led the charge to turn around the Chicago school system. Restoring fiscal discipline, raising test scores, rebuilding crumbling schools, and developing after-school programs, Chico’s reform was called a “model for this country” by then-Education Secretary Richard Riley.

Student Achievement

  • Elementary school reading test scores rose every year of Chico’s presidency
  • Elementary school math scores rose in five out of six years of Chico’s presidency
  • High school reading and math scores improved in five out of six years of Chico’s presidency

After-School Programs

  • Gery developed after-school and summer school programs that provided over 175,000 students with adult supervision and tutoring
  • Over half of all Chicago Public School provided after-school care during Chico’s tenure

Restored Accountability

  • Chico ended the practice of social promotion at the Chicago Public Schools
  • Chico required teachers to assign nightly homework for all students from kindergarten through high school

Repaired Schools

  • Chico raised and spent more than $3 billion for school repair and construction
  • Chico built 16 new schools, 27 new annexes, and 29 additions to existing buildings
  • Chico created 1,137 permanent, new classrooms
  • Chico oversaw that 339 schools received new windows, 325 received new roofs, and 317 received masonry repairs


  • Chico hired thousands of new teachers to reduce class size
  • Working with the Chicago Teachers Union, Chico negotiated two four-year contracts that increased teacher salaries by 19.7%


  • Chico approved seven consecutive balanced budgets
  • Chico turned a projected four-year $1.3 billion deficit into a $345 million surplus
  • Chico increased the Chicago Public School’s bond rating from the lowest possible ratings to the highest possible ratings

Women and Minority Hiring

  • Chico committed to awarding half of all school construction contracts to women and minority owned firms
  • Chico saw that 35% of contracts went to minority owned businesses and 8% to women owned businesses