Mayor Rahm Emanuel addressed more than 200 members of the faith-based community Thursday to sell the idea of a longer school day and school year in Chicago.
And he didn't come alone. CPS Chief Jean-Claude Brizard and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy were along for the ride, also supporting the importance of more time in the classroom.
"We are lagging in the rest of the country," Brizard said, "in terms of literacy and math exams."
Emanuel used some familiar talking points, reminding his audience that Chicago students get 10,000 fewer minutes of instruction than the national average. Other schools are eliminating or cutting all-day kindergarten, he said, while Chicago has added 6,000 children.
Emanuel also touted school choice, more high school security cameras and talks of a 2 percent raise for teachers.
"Kids are left on the sidelines," Emanuel said. "I'm not going to be a party to that. Either be a part of that education system or shame on all of us."
The mayor urged priests and pastors to talk about the first day of school on the pulpit this Sunday and "specifically talk about a longer school day."
"There's nothing more important in city than giving our kids a chance for their future."
Emanuel's CPS board Wednesday voted 7-0 to approve a 2.4 percent property tax increase to help fund the ailing system.
It means that owners of homes valued at $250,000 will pony up an extra $84 per year to the city.
The increase will lead to $150 million in new revenue for the system, which began the year with a $712 million budget deficit.