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Editorial: Even a mayor is a parent first

Updated: July 22, 2011 2:17AM

We will never fault a Chicago politician for sending his or her child to the best school possible, though that might mean taking a pass on a public school. Most parents would do the same.

But we can’t move on from Thursday’s news that Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be sending his children to the exclusive University of Chicago Lab Schools — without noting just how painfully that highlights his most formidable challenge: creating fine school choices for all Chicagoans, rich or poor, connected or cloutless.

Emanuel has made school improvement a core goal of his administration, as his initial efforts to improve teacher quality and extend the school day show. Without good schools, he knows, a city has no future. And that’s why we have defended most of the mayor’s tough early moves.

The Chicago Teachers Union on Thursday took a similarly understanding view of Emanuel’s decision but worked in a sly and incisive dig at the unfairness of a system that denies so many others the same choices.

“We understand why he would choose a school with small class sizes, a broad rich curriculum that offers world languages, the arts and physical education, a focus on critical thinking not test-taking, a teacher and an assistant in every elementary classroom,” CTU President Karen Lewis said. “It’s wonderful that he has that option available to him.”

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