Teachers Union President Against Private Schools Defends Sending Son To One

In an interview with CNN Primetime host Abby Phillip, Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates addressed the recent controversy surrounding her decision to enroll her son in a private school.

Critics had questioned Davis Gates’ commitment to public education, given her vocal opposition to school choice and her comparisons of modern private schools to the segregation-era “segregation academies” of the Jim Crow South. 

When asked why she had chosen a private school for her child despite her previous statements, Gates swiftly clarified her stance, stating, “I didn’t speak out against private schools. I spoke out against school choice.”

“School choice and private schools are two different entities,” she maintained.

She emphasized that her opposition was rooted in the belief that public funds should be invested in strengthening public education, not diverted to private alternatives.

It was recently revealed that Gates, who assumed the CTU presidency last year, had chosen to enroll her eldest child in a Catholic high school in Chicago’s South Side. She had previously stated that having her children in public schools helped legitimize her position within the union. 

“I’m also a mother. My children go to Chicago Public Schools. These are things that help to legitimize my space within the coalition,” she had said.

In a Chicago Magazine article from last year, Davis Gates emphasized, “I can’t advocate on behalf of public education without it taking root in my own household.”

During Tuesday’s interview, Phillip also confronted Gates with her past statements on social media, including one in which she posted, “*School choice* was actually the choice of racists,” and referred to private schools as” ‘Segregation Academies.’” 

Highlighting the discrepancy between her words and her decision to send her child to a private school, Phillip inquired, “What do you say to people questioning whether your rhetoric matches your actions?”

Gates, drawing on her background as a former history teacher, stood firm in her stance as she explained that she was presenting historical facts, highlighting how private schools emerged in response to desegregation efforts.

Phillip, persistent in her line of questioning, read a letter Gates wrote herself in which she explained her decision to enroll her son in a private school for a sports program. 

“The question I think your critics are asking is why not afford that nuance to the families who might live in the South Side of Chicago and in other major cities, and they want the same choice that you were able to afford to give to your child?” Phillip quizzed.

Gates, however, countered, emphasizing that she has two other children in public schools and argued that Chicago’s public schools faced severe funding issues. 

According to her, she made the choice with her husband “so [their son] could live out his dream of being a soccer player while also having a curriculum that can meet his social and emotional needs, even as his two sisters remain in Chicago Public School.”

As the interview continued, Phillip asked if Davis Gates regretted her past rhetoric, and Gates firmly responded, “Regret rhetoric? What I’ve said are facts.”

The exchange concluded with Phillip reiterating the point of the entire back and forth: “I also think that what you just described for your son is a choice that you made for your family, and I think that’s what your critics are pointing out here.”