Mayor Brandon Johnson appointed six new members to the seven-member Chicago Board of Education last week, each of whom share a common progressive ideology focused on race and equity.
“It’s my honor to bring together such a diverse group of people from community, business, philanthropy, and elsewhere to collaborate around a vision for our schools,” Johnson said in his press release.
Jianan Shi, the new board president, was formerly the executive director of Raise Your Hand (RYH), a pro-public school grassroots group that combats “systemic inequities.”
In an official statement, Shi described himself as someone “shaped and molded by the education justice movement” and expressed his ongoing support of pro-public school parents.
“RYH is full of badass mommas; I know they will continue to hold me accountable and I am rooting for their success,” Shi wrote. “I know y’all will continue to guide me and hold me accountable.”
Mariela Estrada, another new board member, is currently the director of community engagement at United Way of Metro Chicago, a coalition combating “systemic issues” to build a “stronger, more equitable Chicago region,” as well as promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
According to her bio, Estrada has no prior experience working in the education sector.
Woods Fund Chicago funds RYH, the organization previously led by Shi.
Morales frequently retweets racially charged posts about white supremacy and even about “white lash,” which is “the discomfort of white people losing their power or their perceived proximity to power.”
In her bio, new board member Mary Fahey Hughes lists her occupation as special education advocate and actor. She completed an undergraduate degree in Theatre but never finished a Master’s degree in Special Education and Teaching.
While employed at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for one year, Hughes worked with the parents of students with special needs. She had a similar role at RYH.
Hughes’ social media frequently include Pride-themed content and often slanders school choice programs. She even retweeted a post claiming school choice is bigoted against LGBT students.
New board member Rudy Lozano has worked in both banking and philanthropy and has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Administration.
The son of a late labor activist, he described his upbringing as “civically engaged in local and international social justice issues.”
While all of Illinois’ public schools are struggling, Chicago’s are particularly so, scoring 20% proficiency in English and 16% in math.
Critics say the situation was worsened by the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) repeatedly forcing schools to close.
Though CTU once claimed the movement to reopen schools was “rooted in sexism, racism and misogyny,” it’s since changed its tune.
When Mayor Johnson, who received substantial campaign support from CTU, announced the new Board of Education, the teachers’ union had nothing but praise for the picks.
“We need board members that represent the lived experience of former [Chicago Public School] educators, graduates, advocates for educational justice and residents who fought against the racist wave of school closings,” read the union’s press statement.