Teachers union boss defends sending son to private school after calling school choice racist
A teachers union boss on CNN Tuesday defended sending her son to private school after being accused of hypocrisy.
CNN Primetime host Abby Phillip interviewed Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Stacy Davis Gates to address the widespread criticism she’s received for sending her son to a private school for its sports program.
Phillip asked Davis Gates if she could explain why she sent her son to a private school after being outspoken against them.
Phillip said, “You’ve likened in the past private schools of today to quote ‘segregation academies’ of the Jim Crow South. Why then send your child to a private school after speaking out so publicly against them?”
“I didn’t speak out against private schools. I spoke out against school choice. School choice and private schools are two different entities,” Davis Gates replied.
Davis Gates faced backlash after it was recently revealed that she had enrolled her eldest child in a private school.
Davis Gates, who was elected president of CTU in 2022 and also serves as executive vice president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, placed her teenage son in a Catholic high school located in Chicago’s South Side, according to a report by NBC Chicago.
She said last year that having her children in public schools helps to “legitimize” her position within the union and that she could not advocate on behalf of public schools if that were not the case, according to NBC Chicago.
In March 2022, Davis Gates said, “I’m also a mother. My children go to Chicago Public Schools. These are things that help to legitimize my space within the coalition.”
Additionally, in a Chicago Magazine article last year, Davis Gates said, “I can’t advocate on behalf of public education without it taking root in my own household.”
The report, which cited multiple sources and Davis Gates’ own social media posts as confirmation of the enrollment, did not specify the name of Davis Gates’ child or the school in which he had been enrolled.
Phillip presented Davis Gates with more of her own past statements.
“*School choice* was actually the choice of racists,” she wrote in an August 2022 post to X, formerly known as Twitter. “It was created to avoid integrating schools with Black children. Now it’s the civil rights struggle of our generation?”
“‘Segregation Academies’ …Call them private schools supported by taxpayer funds-vouchers-so your norther cousins understand better. #RaunersLegacy,” Davis Gates said in a November 2018 post.
“In your tweet, you describe basically private, I mean, you’ve described private schools of the North,” Phillip said. “That was literally your language. But you’ve also said this, that school choice was the choice of racists. I think at the end of the day, people are asking here about whether the rhetoric matches your actions. What do you say to them?”
Davis Gates, a former history teacher, backed her past statements by claiming that she was citing mere facts, including how private schools were formed after schools were desegregation via Brown v. Board of Education.
Phillip, however, pushed back further, telling Davis Gates that she already understands the history. She read a letter penned by Davis Gates explaining the nuances of sending her son to a private school.
“You wrote that to explain why you chose to take your child out of public school for a sports program at a private school,” she said. “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?”
After Davis Gates explained that she has two children currently in public school and argued that Chicago schools are unfunded, Phillip probed further.
“I totally understand the point that you’re making, but I do wonder, do you regret your own rhetoric here?” Phillip said.
Davis Gates replied, “Regret rhetoric? What I’ve said are facts. Again, I’m a history teacher –”
After another back and forth, Phillip concluded the segment by reiterating out what critics have been saying.
“I also think that what you just described for your son is choice that you made for your family, and I think that’s what your critics are pointing out here,” she said.
Fox News’ Kyle Morris contributed to this report.