Mayor Richard M. Daley executed his tried-and-true media strategy again on Tuesday by actually playing off a budding scandal as a good thing and uttering the infamous words of apologists everywhere: Everybody does it.
This time it's allegations that kids were clouted into the city's top schools.
“Thank God people want to get their kids into school, " Daley said. "Usually, they’re fleeing to the suburbs . . .This is unbelievable."
In one sense, Daley is right: Chicago schools have sucked for so long that it's actually a sign of progress that some residents are willing to cheat to get their kids into the better ones.
But it's also wholly inappropriate -- and maddening to those whose kids lost out -- for the mayor to once again basically condone clout as a way of life.
It's also not necessarily an endorsement for his version of school reform, which seems to be working only for the small number of kids who get into the city's magnet school - perhaps because of political connections.
“Years ago, no one even wanted to go to any [Chicago] school. We only had one school," Daley said. "We had Whitney Young … and you had thousands of applicants. Now, we have Jones. You have North Side Prep. You’ve got Gwendolyn Brooks. We got Walter Payton. And we hope to build four or five more as quickly as possible … What we have to do is build more magnet schools all over the city.”
Well, could every student attend a magnet school, then? Why not just make every school better?
It's dizzying trying to follow the man's logic.
(I suppose an increase in car thefts is a good thing because it shows people still want cars!)
While there is a certain supply-and-demand issue Daley correctly ascertains, it doesn't change the fact that no matter how many magnet schools Chicago builds, politically connected parents will continue to try to clout their kids into the best ones until it's made clear that the city finds that unacceptable.
Which Daley just failed to do.
Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.