Don Harmon Caves / Lightfoot 2.0 / Call to Action

View as Webpage Feb, 12, 2023

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.

–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Greetings Craig,

Read on, fellow residents of the City of Chicago, the County of Cook and the State of Illinois, where our elected representatives focus on the interests of other politicians and key contributors, rather than the interests of the voters and residents they are elected to represent.  

We must be ever vigilant and always prepared to take action towards holding accountable, those that we elect to represent us.


COAL Education Committee


"The time to work seriously and collectively, to improve the state of our Community, is upon us..."

Let Us be intentional in all aspects of the Work that must be done.


In a November 21, 2023 issue of COAL Education, COAL reported on the House and Senate versions of Elected Representative School Board (ERSB) legislation to draw Chicago school board districts, and commended President Don Harmon for the senate’s version, HB2233, which provided for Chicagoans electing all 20 school board members this year, as opposed to the convoluted House version, which provided for 10 elected school board members and 10 appointed by the mayor in 2024, thus diluting the goal of a school board that is responsive to the residents of Chicago who would elect them, rather than the decades long control by one person on the 5th floor of City Hall.

Now keep in mind that the decades long control of the school board by Chicago mayors has resulted in a Chicago Public School System that is not meeting the educational needs of all of our children effectively or equitably. Therefore, an independent school board, responsive to residents who voted them into office, is one very important strategy in our collective efforts to improve the education of our children, towards preparing them to succeed and thrive in a world of global competitiveness.

So what does President Harmon do? He caves to political pressures and abandons his own version of ERSB legislation. It is reported that late on Friday, he introduced another version of ERSB legislation that provides for the ‘10 elected / 10 appointed by the mayor' Chicago School Board’ for 2024...the best interests of residents be damned…the best interests of our children be damned.

And get this: Harmon is aligning this revised proposed legislation with the interests of Mayor Brandon Johnson, as articulated in a leaked letter from Johnson to Harmon, dated Tuesday, January 30, 2024, and obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The irony of it all: The goal of ERSB legislation is to take control of the school board away from Chicago mayors and give said control to the voters and residents of Chicago. So, it is a bit ironic that President Harmon asks the very person we are taking control from, ’Mr. Mayor, how and when would you like to give up your control?’.

Of course, Mr. Mayor wants to delay it.

You just can’t make this up.

Lori Lightfoot 2.0

Former Mayor Lori Lightfoot, campaigned in 20xx, emphasizing her full support for an elected school board for Chicago Public Schools (CPS). After winning the Office, her support immediately began to waiver. This change in her commitment resulted in the original ERSB legislation which called for this drawn-out transition to a fully elected school board, to be seated by 2027.

(10 members elected / 10 appointed in 2024, president appointed in 2024, hybrid board seated in 2025.

Then replace the 10 appointed with 10 elected in 2026, President elected in 2026, fully elected board seated in 2027).

This unnecessarily drawn-out transition was corrected in the ERSB legislation passed by the senate in November 2023, but alas, that was nixed by the Harmon – Johnson maneuver.

A bit of history repeating: Prior to his election, current Mayor Brandon Johnson supported an elected school board, and along with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) pushed back on this drawn-out transition to a fully elected school board. But once elected, as his letter to Harmon demonstrates, he now advocates for this drawn-out transition. Meaning he wants to control the school board, just as Daley and Rahm and the supposed progressive Lightfoot before him…. voters be damned, our children be damned.

Mayor Johnson, for your disappointing change in position on this issue of an elected school board, we dub you, with all sincerity, Mayor Lightfoot 2.0.  


NO! This is about the education of our children.

Politicized school boards, controlled by the mayor, with hand-picked appointees accountable only to the mayor, have not improved the state of Chicago Public Schools.

Our children are not receiving the education they need and deserve. The majority of our children are not in the selective enrollment schools, they are not in high performing charters such as Urban Prep, rather they are in underperforming schools and the mayor appointed boards and CEOs have not addressed this for decades.

We’ve got to try something different and an elected school board, accountable to voters is one of the critical strategies we must employ. And this doesn’t need to be drawn out.

And we must not forget that the moratorium for school closings ends in January of 2025. School closings must be overseen by a Board that is fully accountable to residents of neighborhoods that will be impacted. Not to one person sitting on the 5th floor of City Hall.

Let us be clear: A school board that has 10 elected members and 10 members appointed by the mayor and a board president appointed by the mayor, is a school board controlled and accountable to the mayor. It changes nothing; this keeps the status quo. And this is unacceptable.

Our children deserve better.


COAL encourages each of you that believes that our children deserve a quality education, that understands the need to improve Chicago Public Schools, and supports a more independent Elected Representative School Board, please call or email your respective state representative and state senator to tell them that you support a fully elected Chicago Public Schools Board, now!, and ask that they vote ‘no’ on any ERSB legislation that does not include electing all 20 school board members this year. Find My Elected Officials

We’re asking all residents of Chicago and Cook County and across the state to call and email their state senator and representative.

And for Chicago residents, we additionally ask that you contact your respective alderperson to relay that you strongly support a fully elected school board and ask them to take a visible stand against the Mayor’s change in commitment to a fully elected school board and his stated support for a slow walk to a school board accountable to the voters. Find Your Ward and Alderman

Additionally, we must track how each individual votes on the elected school board legislation. Will they vote for a school board fully accountable to voters and residents, or for a board accountable to one individual and other special interests.

And finally, please keep your family and neighbors informed and ask them to join us in taking this action!

Thank you.


Plan to elect Chicago school board hits political land mines Read Here

Johnson tells state lawmakers he wants 10 school board members elected this year — not all 21

Chicago mayor tells Senate president he wants 10 school board seats elected this year — not all 21 - Chicago Sun-Times (

What’s Behind Mayor Johnson Backing the House’s Elected School Board Proposal

What’s Behind Mayor Johnson Backing the House’s… | Kids First Chicago

Editorial: Fully elected school board will give Chicagoans a better say in future of CPS 

Editorial: We need a fully elected Chicago school board this year (

Legislators shouldn’t backtrack now on plans for elected school board.

Under new proposal, all Chicago Board of Education members would be elected by next year. [on President Harmon's legislation in Nov 2023]

Chicago would have a fully elected school board in 2024 under new proposal - Chicago Sun-Times (

About COAL

COAL is an umbrella organization founded by 13 of Chicago's historic African American mens clubs. COAL's overarching mission is to identify, examine, illuminate and find resolution to issues impacting the greater community. We strive to use our collective experience, expertise and resources to improve the quality of opportunity, quality of preparedness and the quality of outcomes (expressed as 'quality of life') for our Community.

Founding Member Organizations

100 Black Men Of Chicago ■ Chicago Assembly ■ Chicago Connection ■ Druids Club ■ Frogs Club ■ Lunch Bunch ■ New Committee ■ Original 40 Club Of Chicago ■ Rat Pack ■ Royal Coterie Of Snakes ■ Saints ■ Sigma Pi Phi Beta-Boule ■ UIC Male Forum / Chicago Good Health Group

What We Believe

The Coalition of African American Leaders believes that it is important to examine the critical issues confronting the African American community where injustice, inequality and the absence of access and opportunity continue to prevail, thereby negatively impacting us as a people.

COAL is an assemblage that advocates and organizes for appropriate and responsible public policy change, system behavior change and equality of opportunity. We aim to achieve for all of our people the fullness of the life experience without any form of racism or exclusion as a deterrent.

We believe we must prepare ourselves for the opportunity of this full participation, thereby achieving the necessary education and training to participate.

Contact: Clarence Wood, Chairman 312.404.8269 - Craig K. Wimberly, President 773.350.9315


COAL is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in Illinois, USA.

Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by U.S. law.