Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office announced late last night that Ald. Howard Brookins (21) will become Chair of the Council Education Committee, Ald. Joe Moreno (1) will become Chair of the Council’s Committee on Economic, Capital, and Technology Development, and Ald. Pat Dowell (3) will be appointed Chair of the Council’s Human Relations Committee.
Contacted last night, Ald. Howard Brookins (21) said he accepted the position reluctantly, asking for condolences rather than congratulations.
“Reluctant because it just looked like it was a lose-lose situation on all fronts. The city doesn’t have the money, CPS doesn’t have the money, CPS and the City of Chicago are being downgraded with respect to bonds, everybody is being taxed to the limits. The teacher’s union is threatening to strike and we have a governor who is trying to push his own agenda. It is truly not a situation that you go in saying, ‘Hey this is a cushy job,’” Brookins told Aldertrack yesterday, while acknowledging that the committee doesn’t have much leverage outside of the power to pass mostly symbolic resolutions and hold hearings.
Brookins said he already has plans to work with state legislators on comprehensive education funding reform to change the current system that “leaves kids in poor districts underserved.”
“We’re up for the challenge. I understand there’s going to be a challenge,” Brookins said, possibly referring to Ald. Burns sometimes being the target of protests by education groups calling to a moratorium on charter school expansion. “I’ve been a target before. We’ll do the best we can.”
Asked about charter school expansion or new CPS builds, Brookins said he’s waiting for an assessment. “Right now I am looking for [CPS CEO] Forrest Claypool and people at CPS to come up with a comprehensive strategy as to how and where they should open more schools, albeit charter or public,” Brookins said. “I’m not shutting the door on anything, but I would like to see the why and the how: Why do we need more schools and how do we pay for them?”
Brookins met with Mayor Emanuel Sunday, he says, and the two discussed a top priority: leveraging City Colleges’ jobs-based curriculum to meet manufacturing demand, possibly the next phase in the Colleges to Careers (C2C) program.
Brookins says he and Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore have met with Greg Baise, President of the Illinois Manufacturing Association, who told them the skilled workforce is aging out and near retirement. Baise said nearly all workers (95 to 98%) who pass a training program could be guaranteed a job, and “within five years they would be making $95,000 a year,” Brookins said. “We can fulfill a need for people who need jobs, well-paid jobs. The mayor sees the same opportunity and has the same ideas. That is going to be huge out of this committee within probably the next 12 months.”