Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Should Mayors Send Their Children to Public Schools?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    No one should be surprised at Rahm Emanuel’s response to whether he’d send his children to a Chicago Public School. Instead, they should be surprised at the question. I mean, Emanuel’s parents fled Chicago in the 1970s so they could send their kids to New Trier. With that kind of background, even Northside College Prep would be a bit … downwardly mobile.

    “The decision I make on my children is one that (wife) Amy and I are gonna make as parents,” Emanuel said. “We’ll discuss where our children go as parents. And I think the people of Chicago, as parents, will appreciate that. When it comes to your own children, you make a decision as a parent. I’m not saying I’m not. I’m not saying what I’m gonna do.”
     
    That would be a no, and mind your own business.

    No matter which private school Emanuel’s children end up attending, he’ll be part of a long tradition among Chicago mayors. This city’s elite will do anything to improve the public schools, except send their children there. Barack Obama first made a name for himself in do-gooder circles as chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a project that distributed millions of dollars to public schools. When he took a job at the University of Chicago, part of the package was free tuition for daughters at Lab.

    First of all, most Chicago mayors in the last century have been Catholic, so that ruled out public schools right there. Of the two Protestant mayors, Harold Washington was too preoccupied with politics to have children, and Eugene Sawyer sent a son to St. Ignatius College Prep. Emanuel’s children attend Jewish elementary schools, but there are no elite Jewish high schools in Chicago.

    Interestingly, the two Catholic candidates in this race, Gery Chico and Miguel del Valle, sent their children to Chicago Public Schools.

    “I believe in practicing what you preach,” Chico, a former school board president, told Ward Room. “They went to Von Steuben and Northside Prep. I think having that kind of first-hand knowledge of what goes on in those school buildings enabled me to be a stronger leader of the Chicago Public Schools.”