School Choice Hypocrites: Illinois Union Officials Choose Private Options

When it comes to school choice in Illinois, it seems some teachers’ union officials are living by the mantra, “Do as I say, not as I do.” It was revealed this week that Sean Denney, the government relations director of the Illinois Education Association (IEA), a branch of the National Education Association, sends his children to a private Catholic school. Meanwhile, he works diligently to diminish educational options for other parents.

A report by WMAQ-TV journalist Mary Ann Ahern revealed Denney’s personal choice, all while the legislature contemplates scrapping a tax-credit scholarship that boosts parents’ freedom in selecting educational avenues for their offspring. Isn’t it a bit ironic? One can’t help but question the logic of these officials who, according to public records, earn six-figure salaries — Denney reportedly makes $188,000 — while vehemently opposing the very choice they personally enjoy.

This issue isn’t isolated to Denney alone. Chicago Teachers Union president Stacy Davis Gates had received similar criticisms before admitting to sending one of her three children to private school. Gates, who said the decision was forced due to the marginal offerings at Chicago schools, posted a statement attacking her critics for collaborating with “extreme, racist” forces.

Despite earning at least $150,000 annually, she and her union have worked to hinder private school choice programs, even when state assessments reveal just 17% of Chicago Public School students are proficient in math.

The contradictions don’t stop here. According to an op-ed by Corey DeAngelis published Wednesday by Fox News Digital, Gates declared that “school choice was actually the choice of racists” and had “racist origins.” Yet, Gates finds herself exercising the privilege of choosing a school for her child — a privilege she wishes to deny other families who may not have the means she does.

The Chicago Teachers Union has recently opposed the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Program for low-income students, eliminating choices for families without comparable financial resources.

Given these events, it’s valid to ask: Why the double standards? If Gates claims the public education system’s inadequacies “forced” her to opt for private education, shouldn’t all families, especially those in low-income brackets, be entitled to make choices that best serve their children’s educational needs? Yet, in her statement, Gates declared that she and her union “will continue to oppose siphoning public school resources off to private institutions through voucher programs.”

As Illinois lawmakers gear up to decide the future of the Invest in Kids program, they should be aware of the discrepancies between public posturing and private actions of these union leaders.
While Gates and Denney may have the financial means to insulate their children from the limitations of public schools, their union-backed opposition to school choice effectively traps less-privileged students in failing institutions.

Isn’t it time we stop this hypocrisy and give every family the educational choice they deserve? If choice is good enough for the children of highly paid union leaders, then it should be good enough for every child in Illinois.