Candidate For Mayor Dodges Question About Whether He'll Send His Kids To Public Schools

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday that he wants to boost teacher training in the city, but would not commit to sending his own kids to Chicago Public Schools if he wins the race for mayor.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports that Emanuel proposed doubling the number of teacher training academies in Chicago, calling quality teachers the “key to educational success.”

“It will have Chicago once again lead in school reform by starting where school reform both begins and ends – with the teacher,” Emanuel said.

His proposal would increase the number of special teacher training academies in Chicago from 7 to 14 and the number of annual graduates from 60-70 to 160-170.

Then, after groups of those teachers have been closely monitored in classrooms for a year, they’d be sent to individual schools.

“The notion that on a new school year, 15 teachers with masters degrees in education showed up,” Emanuel said. “You bring up the entire game for the entire teaching profession.”

Former Chicago Board of Education Chairman Gery Chico, who is running against Emanuel, called the proposal a good concept.

“I started the one Rahm talked about today called the Academy of Urban School Leadership,” Chico said.

But he also said that with 27,000 teachers in the system, 170 a year is a drop in the bucket.

“I don’t think it’ll get us to where we’re looking to go,” he said. “I mean, I’ve seen a couple of ideas from Rahm every now and then and I think we need a scaled program to take us in a new direction. Thats how I want to lead the city.”

Asked if Emanuel’s proposal would do just that, Chico said, “It may start, but by the time you and I are retired, we might be someplace.”

Emanuel said that most of the new teachers trained through his program would go to so-called turnaround schools.

That’s a concept another rival candidate who has long pushed for education reforms, State Sen. James Meeks, questions.

“We need to turn around a system,” Meeks said, “It is the system he won’t send his children to.”

However, Meeks’ own children didn’t go to Chicago Public Schools either. They went to parochial schools.

When asked Tuesday whether he’d send his kids to CPS if he’s elected mayor,, Emanuel said he hasn’t decided where his kids would go.

“It’s something Amy and I will discuss as parents,” Emanuel said, “and will discuss where our children will go as parents and I think the people of Chicago, as parents, will appreciate that.”

Meeks said he wouldn’t blame Emanuel if he chose private schools for his kids.

But Chico said a mayor should lead by example, and that he, his parents, and all his children went to Chicago Public Schools.

Mayor Richard M. Daley, who has long made public schools a priority, sent his kids to private Catholic schools.

CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall contributed to this report.

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