According to a report published March 19 by the Chicago Tribune, SodexoMAGIC, a company co-founded by NBA legend Erving ‘Magic’ Johnson, acquired an $80 million contract last year from the Chicago Board of Education, whose members are appointed by Mayor Emanuel. Since then, $250,000 has flowed from Johnson and his affiliated enterprises to Emanuel’s campaign coffers.
The contract to SodexoMAGIC was for janitorial services in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) facilities. The company was hired, in part, as a free-market solution to the problem of teachers wasting valuable instructional time on cleaning up. SodexoMAGIC’s $80 million contract was only one among others doled out take care of this problem. The food, facilities and uniform company Aramark also received a significant amount of money. About one year and $340 million later, however, CPS principals are saying that the schools are dirtier than they were before the private companies came in.
According to a March 20, Chicago Sun-Times article, “About 260 of 522 principals of district-run schools answered surveys by the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, with 200 saying their schools are dirtier since Aramark and SodexoMAGIC took over janitorial services in March 2014. More than 200 also said the private managers did not free them up to spend more time on instructional issues as promised.”
According to the Sun-Times, Mayor Emanuel’s threats to the company to reform their practices have ringed hollow. On Thursday, Emanuel responded to the principals’ survey “with the same tough talk that went nowhere just a few months ago,” the paper reports.
“It’s been a year; it’s been an utter catastrophe,” said Clarice Berry, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.