Putting an end to the excessive increase of charter schools and school closings and working to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour are a few changes Tara Stamps will work on enacting if she is elected 37th Ward alderman in the Feb. 24, election.
Stamps, a veteran classroom teacher and former educator at Leslie Lewis Elementary School, is running against incumbent alderman Emma Mitts; Leroy Duncan, a businessman and beat facilitator for Chicago Alternative Policing Strategies (CAPS); and Maretta Brown-Miller, a Chicago Park District staff assistant.
Stamps, who has been endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), is sharply critical of Ald. Mitts’s educational track record, which she considers to be aligned with Mayor Emanuel’s approach to educational reform.
During a Jan. 17, campaign rally, Stamps called Mitts a “rubber stamp alderman [who] gives corporate handouts to feed corporate greed.”
“It’s horrible, they depend on you all to stay ignorant of the issues,” Stamps said during the rally, which was held at her office headquarters, 5112 W. North Ave.
“If I fail to deliver once this community blesses me with the opportunity to serve, get me,” said the former teacher.
Stamps said she taught at Lewis for several years and that it hurts to see zealots choosing to privatize public education, rather than make investments in public education.
“Why is it that charter schools are offered as the best? There’s no evidence that they’re doing a better job at educating students than regular schools,” Stamps said. “They have a bad track record of enrolling special education students at a very low rate, making themselves selective in a way.”
The veteran educator is also in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15 and said workers should yield enough money to care for their children, pay the bills, buy groceries and have a little money left over.
“If you work in this city, you should be able to have a job with not a minimum wage but a livable wage,” Stamps said Saturday during her campaign rally.
Last month, Chicago’s city council approved to raise the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2019, according to media outlets.
Stamps said a $13 minimum wage in 2019 is the equivalent of the $8 minimum wage today.
She added that big box stores such as Walmart can afford to pay their employees a livable wage and that those stores have terrible labor practices.
“Because they pay [employees] so poorly, like a hamster on a wheel, they can never make a decent income. This locks our people in poverty,” Stamps said. “To not want the people who work for you to have a basic standard of living is so un-American and unpatriotic. What you’re saying is I want more, but at a cost to your daily life.”
The candidate said $15 an hour would be sufficient to raise families out of poverty, thereby changing the dynamics of communities and making them more viable.
Stamps, a lifelong Chicagoan, said that she’s spent the last twenty years working for strong neighborhood schools, good jobs and civil rights on the West Side of Chicago.
She has one daughter, two sons and is an alumna of Chicago Public Schools.
Stamps, who earned a B.A. from Central State University and two master’s degrees in education, is also the founding director of In the Company of Sisters, a theatre company dedicated to lifting up the voices of African-American women.