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Emanuel says he’s not worried about political heat from school closings

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Updated: June 23, 2013 6:29AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday he’ll take his political lumps for his controversial school-closing plan because not only is it the job of the mayor to fix Chicago’s schools, “that’s the responsibility of being an adult.”

He made his remarks when he was asked about Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle — who slammed the mayor’s education policies in an exclusive Sun-Times interview last week — and the closure plan’s potential to cause political fallout.

“If I was to shrink from something the city has discussed for over a decade about what it needed to do,” Emanuel said, “shrunk from that responsibility because it was politically too tough, but then watch another generation of children drop out or fail in their reading and math, I don’t want to hold this job.”

The Chicago Board of Education is expected to vote on a plan Wednesday that would close 54 schools and 61 buildings, affecting at least 30,000 Chicago Public School students.

Preckwinkle, meanwhile, took a broad swipe last week at the mayor’s education agenda. She said 13 of the 54 schools marked for closure should stay open, and she said last year’s teachers’ strike provided an excuse for the school closures.

“The argument,” Preckwinkle said, “was, ‘We gave the teachers the raises they wanted; therefore we have to close schools.’”

Preckwinkle, a former teacher, said she doesn’t plan to run against the mayor when he campaigns for re-election in 2015. But her name came up when Emanuel was asked about the political consequences of the school closings down the road.

“I will absorb the political consequence so our children have a better future,” Emanuel said.

Contributing: Dan Mihalopoulos

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