Notable Native-Jeff Baker

By Assistant Metro Editor

Jeffrey Baker, born and raised in Chicago, has decided to run for alderman of the 21st Ward against incumbent Howard Brookins. The husband and father of three served four years in the National Guard as a telecommunications specialist.  Baker’ said his goal is to bring new and positive change to the residents in the 21st Ward.

The Chronicle spoke with Baker about serving in the military, his plans for the 21st Ward and charter schools in Chicago.

THE CHRONICLE:  What did you do while serving in the National Guard?

JEFFREY BAKER:  I was in what was called [the] 31 Mic, kind of  like a tree rat. We climbed poles and connected communication wires; we were the communications outfit for field operations.

What is the mission of your campaign? 

I plan to be a better messenger than Brookins has been.  I plan to be more direct. I plan to have a better plan to move the community forward than he has shown. So one thing that we are doing with our campaign is we’re talking a little bit differently than anybody else running or anybody that has run in the past few decades. We’re talking about upsetting the balance of power in the city and City Council, upsetting the balance of power in the entire city, and if we are successful, we’ll do the same statewide. We’ll help other candidates to do the same, to actually visualize overtaking, actually visualize creating the numbers that create power and utilizing that power to take control and get the people’s will done as opposed to the will of those with the money.

How do you feel about Chicago’s charter schools? 

It’s more so how I feel about the charter school movement in general. I think that our public school system has been starved and that starvation has led us to run to this charter school, this privatization of education, this privatization of multiple billions of dollars across the nation in educational funds out of our pockets going into private entities.  The hands of private entities shortchange our children. I think that if a charter school can be successful, then a local public school can be successful.  The comparison is apples to oranges when you start to talk about selective enrollment in charter schools, and then try to compare them to neighborhood schools. It’s an unfair comparison. I think it’s a very dangerous slippery slope that we’re on, and we have to put a stop to it, and I don’t like the privatization of education.  I think it must stop immediately.

How do you plan to make the 21st Ward more safe?

Safety is definitely a concern, any life lost. Violence is a tragedy, but in 2014 Chicago is on track to have less murders than it has had since the 1960s.  Right now, this year is making history for peace, that is not reported for some reason. We are being told or being sold that violence is overrunning the city, murders are overrunning the city, and I believe that sets us up for what has happened to education. It’s an excuse.  It gives a reason for poor education in poor neighborhoods, it gives an excuse and reason for less investment in certain neighborhoods as it pertains to business or why businesses are not in a particular neighborhood. We are at a moment right now where our children are more peaceful than they have ever been. First and foremost [what] needs to be said [is that] there is no violence epidemic. There is an educational epidemic, there is a dropout rate that is an epidemic, there is a reading score rate that is an epidemic when we have approximately 40 percent of high school graduates going to college needing remedial reading before they can begin college credit courses. That’s an epidemic. That’s a problem. Violence is not our No. 1 problem.