CHICAGO (WBBM) – Charter schools, union contracts, and a proposed income tax increase were just a few topics as four of the six major candidates for Mayor sounded off on their plans to better improve Chicago public schools. It was part of the Chicago Mayoral Forum on Education held at Walter Payton College Prep High School.

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Senator James Meeks says he’d need to be reassured that an income tax increase would go to schools, “The people of Illinois don’t mind spending money for schools, but they just want to know how it’s going to be spent. They just want to make sure it’s going to improve the quality of education and so we have an obligation to make sure you know how your tax dollars are going to be spent before we ask for them.”

Former U.S. Senator Carol Mosley Braun says she isn’t sold on the plan just yet, “I know this is against my governor but we’re still in the middle of a recession and I think a recession is the absolute wrong time to ask people to raise taxes.”

Miguel Del Valle says a property tax increase is the only way the state will be able to improve schools, “We need additional revenue in the state of Illinois. We are facing a 13 billion dollar deficit. Anyone who says that they are opposed to an income tax increase, they are not coming face to face with the reality here in Illinois.”

Gery Chico touted his experience on the school board and says he supports longer school days and years, “I’ve proposed lengthening the school day from 6 to 8 hours and school year from 176 days to 200 days. The reason for that is that all the research shows that the more time spent teaching, the more time children learn.”

When asked what kind of experience he’d look for in a new school superintendent, Meeks says he’d want to the new schools chief to have an education background.

“The current model doesn’t work,” said Meeks.

“The model works, the execution of the model is broken,” countered Chico.

Mosley Braun agreed that the new superintendent needed an education background, “It’s time to appoint an education.”

The candidates took questions from students in the audience about bullying, the performance gap between schools and the Magnet program.

Rahm Emanuel and Congressman Danny Davis did not attend