I am the President of the Chicago Principals and Administators Association. I have been a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) student, a CPS principal, and am currently the parent of a CPS student. I led the highest performing neighborhood school in Chicago (Blaine), and I relentlessly defend public education. My school was one of only five (out of more than 600) that met at least three of the Mayor’s four merit award criteria for three consecutive years. When my administration arrived, 79% of students were meeting reading standards. Two years later 89% were meeting them. In the same time period our percentage of African American students meeting standards rose from 43% to nearly 80%. Before moving to Blaine I was an assistant principal at a turnaround school (Johnson) where 99% percent of the students were African American and from low-income households. At Johnson I helped raise the percentage of students meeting standards from 43% to over 60%, while establishing a climate and culture that was safe and supportive.
In 2013 I became the first Chicago principal to speak openly about the destructive school policies of Chicago’s mayor, as well as the first CPS employee to draw the public’s attention to the unethical and corrupt behavior of former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in relationship to the “SUPES” no-bid contract scandal for which she was later investigated and convicted. In the spring of 2014 I wrote an Op-Ed that generated significant media coverage of City Hall’s heavy-handed approach to silencing principals.
Later that year, I published research on test score data that revealed public schools produced significantly more academic growth in students than charter schools. Immediately afterward I worked with several other CPS principals to expose filthy conditions in Chicago schools that were the result of a botched custodial privatization deal. A few months later I uncovered the manipulation of charter school test score data by CPS officials. I have twice been a panelist at the City Club of Chicago, and my statement in support of parents opting their children out of PARCC testing was one of the Washington Post’s most read articles.
In 2015 I campaigned for Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in his bid to unseat mayor Rahm Emanuel, and in 2016 I was featured in two commercials for presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. The first commercial was a 30-second ad in which I drew attention to the failings of the Mayor’s Office. The second was an two-minute national TV ad that featured elements of my life story to represent the hope and possibilities embodied by the Sanders campaign. Shortly after my work was featured in both Chicago Magazine and on WGN television in the segment, “The Principal’s Principles.”
In the spring of 2016 CPS and City Hall officials had me removed from my position as principal in an attempt to silence my voice, prevent me from organizing principals against a corrupt privatization deal, and prevent me from being elected President of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. The move backfired, and I was elected with more than 70% of the votes from principals and assistant principals (69% overall).
As Public Servant
I am a public servant and, as such, I believe my job is to serve the public. I serve the residents of Chicago by keeping them informed of the impact of our school district’s corrupt, inept, and incompetent decision-making. Residents make the decisions about who to put into office, who to take out of office, and who to put pressure on while they’re in office. That’s part of democracy too. Democracy is not “We vote you in and we leave you alone.” It’s “We vote you in and then we keep you honest.” So I’m doing everything that I can to give the people I serve the information they need to hold our politicians and elected and appointed officials accountable. Toward that end, I have often appeared in print and television media outlets to inform residents of the dangers of the sub-standard parasitic school system reorganization underway in Chicago and across the country, and to give them a sense of what more effective education policies look like.
My son attends our neighborhood public school. Someday he will inherit this city, but he will not inherit it alone. He will inherit it with his classmates. Chicago will be what they make it, together. So if I care about the kind of Chicago my son will live and work in, I have to care as much about the education of his classmates as I do about his. If we want a Chicago that will offer safety and prosperity for our own children, we must work with renewed intensity to ensure that all of our city’s children realize their fullest potential. They are Chicago.
Other perspectives of my work
“Man, oh man—LaRaviere’s piece is the greatest tell-it-like-it-is putdown of phonies since Bob Dylan went off in ‘Positively 4th Street….’ His essay exploded like a bomb. Within hours, thousands of principals, teachers, and parents were e-mailing it back and forth as if to say, finally—someone on the inside dares to tell the truth!”
—Ben Joravsky, author of Hoop Dreams, and 2010 Illinois Journalist of the Year
“First, this guy got a full page in the Sun-Times on Saturday. Now, a story as well? When does he get a column?”
— Email to the Chicago Tribune from John Kupper, political advisor to Rahm Emanuel
“LaRaviere is so clear and effective in debate. He summarized — not only restating his position, not only the proposal he is attacking, but the spin techniques used by the Emanuel team. It is fun to read his logic.”
—Bill Drew, Founder of Chicago’s McKinley Park Progressive Alliance
From the moment he began to speak Troy LaRaviere held the audience, including me, spellbound…. Mr. LaRaviere backs up his powerful words with substance. I’d tell any organization seeking a dynamic, talented speaker to call Mr. LaRaviere and to save me a seat in the front row.
—Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Founder, Rainbow/PUSH
“It is absolutely unacceptable that a school principal is facing politically-motivated retaliation because he dared to stand up to the mayor of Chicago. Principal LaRaviere, who won three straight principal merit awards handed out by the mayor, is getting results for the students at Blaine Elementary. The only explanation for his removal appears to be Mayor Emanuel’s unhealthy obsession with taking revenge.”
—Bernie Sanders, Senator and former candidate for President of the United States
“Our president was so impressed by Troy’s [debate] performance that he encouraged our staff to bring him back for future events. [So] we asked Troy to be the key leader of a panel discussion on the state of the civil rights activism…. The panel included several young activists, and we needed Troy’s maturity, wisdom and experience. He brought all three to the stage in front of 200 attendees, creating the most engaging and moving event at the Newberry in my time here.”
—D. Bradford Hunt, Vice President, The Newberry Library
“Where does a man like Troy LaRaviere come from? Where does his courage come from? Why is he able to stand tall and be fearless when so many others quake in the face of power? Why are there not hundreds and thousands of principals and superintendents like Troy LaRaviere? All I can say is ‘Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your integrity. Thank you for your inspiration.’”
—Diane Ravitch, Education Historian, Assistant US Secretary of Education (1991-93)