Donors in Chicago’s mayoral race have ties to schooling — science weblog

Just like the candidates themselves, the folks and organizations giving huge cash in Chicago’s mayoral election have robust ties to public schooling — and the debates round it for the previous 20 years. 

Former Chicago Public Faculties CEO Paul Vallas’ marketing campaign has been propelled by rich enterprise executives, whereas county commissioner and union organizer Brandon Johnson has been fueled by labor unions.

The Chicago Academics Union is Johnson’s greatest donor, whereas Vallas has obtained six-figure donations from rich people with ties to high school alternative and schooling reform, together with some who’ve constitution faculties named after them. Vallas, a torch bearer for college alternative and constitution faculties, has supported voucher growth. In the meantime, Johnson’s progressive platform aligns carefully with the academics union’s imaginative and prescient for the district. 

Whereas a full accounting of marketing campaign donations and spending received’t be obtainable till after the election, a Chalkbeat Chicago evaluation of Illinois State Board of Elections information reveals Vallas has obtained at the least $15 million since October and Johnson has collected greater than $10 million since October 1, 2022. 

Johnson’s marketing campaign fueled by labor unions and educators

Johnson obtained the backing of the Chicago Academics Union, his largest donor, earlier than formally launching his marketing campaign final fall. Since then, the union’s Political Motion Committee has donated virtually $2.2 million to his marketing campaign, in response to state board of elections information. 

The union has poured thousands and thousands into aldermanic and mayoral campaigns in recent times as a method to affect broader insurance policies that have an effect on public faculties. Some rank-and-file CTU members have filed a criticism towards union management, alleging members’ dues had been being funneled to the union’s political motion committee, in response to WTTW’s Paris Schutz.

A handful of different labor unions are amongst Johnson’s different high donors. The dad or mum unions of the CTU — Illinois Federation of Academics and American Federation of Academics — every gave $940,000 and $2.1 million respectively. The nation’s different largest academics union, the Nationwide Schooling Affiliation, donated $50,000, and its Illinois counterpart gave $75,000. A number of political committees linked to the unions that characterize particular schooling aides, classroom assistants, faculty bus aides, baby care employees, and nurses, have collectively donated greater than $2 million, in response to a Chalkbeat evaluation.

United Working Households, a progressive group and CTU ally, has additionally donated virtually $47,000 in in-kind contributions, normally within the type of workers assist, to Johnson’s marketing campaign and the nationwide Working Households Social gathering donated $70,000.

Other than labor unions, Johnson’s marketing campaign coffers have largely been crammed by smaller particular person donations — many from academics and educators. For instance, he obtained $20,000 — considered one of his largest particular person items — from Elizabeth Simons, a former bilingual schooling instructor, who now chairs the board of the Heising-Simons Basis. The inspiration offers grants to organizations geared toward strengthening early childhood schooling for low-income households. 

Attorneys who’ve represented the Chicago Academics Union on the bargaining desk donated to Johnson. Robin Potter, mom of union Vice President Jackson Potter, gave $6,000 and Robert Bloch’s regulation agency donated $5,000. 

Others who’ve advocated for extra funding for public faculties gave to Johnson, as nicely. Cassie Creswell of Illinois Households for Public Faculties gave $5,000, and Nationwide Schooling Affiliation President Rebecca Pringle donated $2,000. Kenneth Williams-Bennett, father of CPS graduate Probability the Rapper, additionally donated $8,000 to Johnson. Williams-Bennett was beforehand an aide to late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Probability donated $2.2 million to Chicago Public Faculties in 2017, as the varsity district was combating for extra state funding.

Vallas backed by rich donors with ties to schooling reform

Vallas’ marketing campaign struggle chest is greater than Johnson’s and has been all through the marketing campaign. The previous district CEO has seen an infusion of money from company enterprise executives, a lot of whom have ties to constitution faculties and different schooling organizations.

One in all his largest particular person donors is Paul J. Finnegan, co-founder and co-CEO of Madison Dearborn Companions, a non-public funding fairness agency in Chicago. Finnegan has donated $400,000 since October. He’s a previous chairman and present native advisory board member of Train for America. Finnegan additionally sits on the board of CDW Company, a know-how and companies supplier for companies, governments, and faculty districts, together with Chicago Public Faculties, which has ramped up buying in recent times utilizing COVID-19 restoration {dollars}. 

In keeping with tax filings from 2019, the Finnegan Household Basis helps dozens of schooling nonprofits, together with Train for America and the Academy for City College Management, and constitution faculties networks, together with Noble, LEARN, KIPP, and Intrinsic. 

Golf resort proprietor Michael Keiser, who additionally sits on the native advisory board of Train for America, and his spouse, Rosalind, have donated $400,000 to Vallas’ marketing campaign since October.  He additionally made a $500,000 donation final summer time, shortly after Vallas introduced his bid. Finnegan and Keiser are additionally supporters of the College of Chicago’s City Schooling Institute.

Different six-figure donations embrace Craig Duchossois, govt chairman of the Duchossois Group, has donated $760,000. The Duchossois Household Basis has given grants to After College Issues, in response to the basis’s web site. 

Citadel govt Gerald Beeson has donated $300,000 since October. Beeson and his spouse have an ongoing scholarship for college kids at Huge Shoulders Fund, which offers assist to Catholic elementary and excessive faculties in low-income communities.

Two of Vallas’ high donors helped open constitution faculties in Chicago that now bear their names. Donald Wilson, CEO of DRW Holdings, supported the opening of the Noble Community of Constitution Faculties twelfth campus — DRW School Prep —on the West Aspect in 2012. He has donated a mixed $350,000 to Vallas’ marketing campaign since January. 

Joseph Mansueto, a billionaire entrepreneur and proprietor of the Chicago Fireplace soccer workforce, donated $250,000 to Vallas’ marketing campaign. In 2017, he donated $18 million that largely funded the development of Noble’s seventeenth campus in Brighton Park, now named Mansueto Excessive College

Deborah Quazzo, a controversial ex-Chicago faculty board member, and her husband donated $7,500 and $10,000, respectively, to Vallas’ marketing campaign, as first reported by WBEZ. Quazzo left her seat after the Solar-Occasions reported on her enterprise dealings with the district. The district Workplace of Inspector Normal mentioned Quazzo violated Chicago Public College’s ethic’s code, in response to the Solar-Occasions.

Though they haven’t given direct donations to Vallas’ marketing campaign, two political motion committees centered on faculty alternative and schooling reform are backing his candidacy by working advertisements for his platform and towards Johnson. 

On March 23, the American Federation for Kids, a bunch based by former Secretary of Schooling Betsy Devos, donated $65,000 to the Illinois Federation for Kids PAC. On the identical day, the group gave $59,385 to a political strategic media agency Go Huge Media, for digital media supporting Vallas, information present. 

INCS Motion Unbiased Committee, which helps candidates who’re supportive of constitution faculties, spent $258,000 on tv advertisements and $359,000 on digital media opposing Johnson, as first reported by WTTW. 

INCS Motion has obtained most of its funding since October from James S. Frank, who gave the committee a collective $1.5 million. Frank is on the boards of the Illinois Community of Constitution Faculties and Chicago Public Schooling Fund, along with Train for America’s native advisory board. He has donated $225,000 on to Vallas since January.

Campaigns have till April 17 to file a full accounting of their fundraising and spending actions by way of March 31.

Mauricio Peña is a reporter for Chalkbeat Chicago, overlaying Okay-12 faculties. Contact Mauricio at

Becky Vevea is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat Chicago. Contact Becky at 

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