Johnson promises not to close top performing CPS schools, but leaves out magnets and charters

Mayor Brandon Johnson says he will not close high-performing CPS Selective Enrollment Schools, at least not until a fully elected Chicago Public School Board takes over the system in 2027.

The mayor made his promise in a letter sent on Friday to Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, asking for Harmon to kill statewide legislation that would protect those schools.

"The district will not close selective enrollment schools, nor will the District make disproportionate budget cuts to selective enrollment schools," the letter states. "The district will maintain admissions standards at those schools. Any narrative to the contrary is patently false."

Johnson and his Chicago Teachers Union allies have lobbied hard against legislation passed by the house that would explicitly protect those schools, along with magnets and charter schools. The legislation was filed due to concerns those schools could be on the chopping block, after Johnson's handpicked school board released a five year strategic plan that alluded to redirecting resources away from them and toward neighborhood schools. The bill's house sponsor, State Rep Margaret Croke, says she is disappointed that Harmon has apparently agreed to sit on the bill in the senate.

"While his letter agreement with the Mayor contains some concessions," Croke said. "It does not protect magnet or charter schools and still allows for changes in admissions criteria for selective enrollment schools."  

Johnson says he has no plans to help some schools at the expense of others.

"My vision for CPS is not one where some students suffer at the expense of others," Johnson said in his letter to Harmon. "It is to ensure that we have a system that is geared toward the benefit of all students, and this of course includes our students at selective enrollment schools."

Croke says she's worried magnets and charters are at risk.

"The CPS school budgeting process has been hidden from both the public and from Springfield legislators, and I fully expect that disproportionate cuts will be made to magnet schools and charters will eventually be closed."

The CTU has long been against charter schools, as most of them are non-unionized.