Rahm: Make parents vow to help
By KIM JANSSEN Staff Reporter email@example.com December 13, 2010 12:04AM
Rahm Emanuel delivers an address on education Sunday at Bethune School of Excellance at 3030 W. Arthington. Al Podgorski - Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: April 19, 2011 5:13AM
Parents of Chicago Public School students should have to sign contracts promising to read with their children and limit TV and video-game playing, mayoral contender Rahm Emanuel said Sunday.
The plan formed part of what Emanuel called “the new grand bargain: more accountability with more responsibility,” for parents, teachers and principals. But the Chicago Teacher’s Union and some of Emanuel’s mayoral rivals criticized it as a rehash of failed policies.
Under the former White House chief of staff’s education plan, principals would be freed from CPS bureaucracy but could be fired or have their schools closed if they failed to hit agreed five-year performance targets.
Schools would compete for a slice of a $30 million fund paid for by businesses and philanthropic foundations, while the worst schools would close or be taken over if a majority of parents demanded it. Parents also would get report cards monitoring school performance but would have to sign contracts guaranteeing involvement in their children’s education.
The best teachers could race to the top of the pay scale and win bonuses for working in tough schools. Layoffs wouldn’t be by seniority.
Outlining his plans to parents at Bethune School on the West Side on Sunday, Emanuel said the school day and year should be extended. “It’s difficult for Chicago teachers to impart the knowledge and skills that their students require when our children spend less time in the classroom than just about anywhere in the nation,” he said.
He praised Mayor Daley’s record on education but said “the job is not finished.”
But CTU president Karen Lewis said Emanuel “seems to suggest a continuation of haphazard experimentation on our children” saying there was “no proof” or research to back his proposals.
“Chicago has tried much of what Mr. Emmanuel suggests — more autonomy for principals, merit pay, competitive school funding, increasing crony contracts for teacher preparation — but none have actually improved teaching and learning,” she said.
City Clerk Miguel Del Valle, also said Emanuel’s proposals “nothing new.”
Former CPS chief Gery Chico, who has outlined his education plan on his website, dismissed Emanuel’s as “ light as cotton-candy,” saying Emanuel aims too low and should agree to a debate.
State Sen. James Meeks touted his record in education reform, saying, “Ideas are one thing, but a record of fighting for those ideas is another.” And U.S. Rep Danny Davis — a former teacher — said that while he’d “long advocated for a longer school day,” he wasn’t convinced seniority should end.