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Want to Improve the Schools, Rahm? Send Your Kids

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Want to Improve the Schools, Rahm? Send Your Kids
Want to Improve the Schools, Rahm? Send Your Kids

Rory Devine reports

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Rahm Emanuel's education plan, released  Sunday, has some good ideas in it.

Emanuel wants to double the number of teacher training academies in the city, lay off teachers according to performance, not seniority, and lengthen the school year.

But the best thing Emanuel can do to transform the Chicago Public Schools is send his three children there. That’s because the educational and economic background of a school’s parents has more to do with its success than any government program.

Why do students at the James E. Blaine Elementary School have some of the highest test scores in the state? Because it’s at Southport and Addison. Have you seen the real estate prices over there?

“The main channel through which parental socio-economic background affects achievement is via effort,” said Professor Gianni DiFraja of England’s University of Leicester, who conducted a study on how parents’ background affects schools. “Parents from a more advantaged environment exert more effort, and this influences positively the educational attainment of their children. By the same token, the parents’ background also increases the school's effort, which increases the school achievement. Why schools work harder where parents are from a more privileged background we do not know. It might be because middle class parents are more vocal in demanding that the school works hard.”

Families with the Emanuels’ wealth and social standing usually send their kids to private school, or move to the suburbs. (Not an option for the mayor, obviously.) The Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed reported that Emanuel’s wife, Amy Rule, has been inquiring about enrollment at the Latin School, where tuition runs up to $26,895 a year.

For a family that could afford the Latin School to choose the neighborhood school would send a huge message to the nervous parents of 5-year-olds who really want to stay in Roscoe Village, but think Northbrook would be better for Liam and Emily. If the mayor won’t send his own kids to CPS, why should they? Good schools are the most important factor in keeping the middle class in Chicago. Emanuel would not only strengthen the school system by choosing CPS, he'd strengthen the entire city.

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