Mayor Emanuel: Don't Get Grouchy, Get Us Moving!

I like Mayor Emanuel. Well, maybe like is a strong word. I like him in the sense that he earned a click and a thumbs-up (a.k.a. “like”) on my Facebook page, along with an old neighbor’s putt putt mini golf course in Stroudsburg, PA.

No matter what your feelings for the Mayor are, it’s an indisputable fact that he loves this city. Loves it like it’s his own child. Which is why I’m bummed he gave such attitude to NBC reporter Mary Ann Ahern, who asked him about his kids going to private school.

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Good for him for telling the reporter that his kids deserve privacy. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard enough about politicians’ kids, including however, wherever and with whomever they were conceived.

What got me slightly stressed - ok panicked, since there is a very good chance my daughter will attend public school next year – is how defensive he became. Note to his press secretary: defensiveness doesn’t look good on camera. The Mayor had a fantastic opportunity to show just how much he loves this city and how much he cares about its future. Instead, he blew it. Here's what he could have said.

“Listen,  Mary.  I’m not that crazy about this question, because I’d prefer my kids lives stay out of the public eye.”  See how tactfully I avoid the word private?  Easy as pie!  And then he could have continued…

“But what I would love to talk about with you, and what I think you’re getting at, is education. How do we give our children the best education out there, so we can compete with China and India, compete with Europe, and create the brightest and most passionate generation this country has ever seen? Because that’s what I want. I want for Chicago parents to not even bother applying to private schools, because we’re investing our time, energy, resources and technology into creating the best education system in the U.S.A.”

Wouldn’t that have been amazing? He would have had people around the city - me included - pumped, engaged, and ready to mobilize. 

And if he felt like going full-out, JFK, Rock-My-World-style  (can you tell I was in the Peace Corps 10+ years ago?) he could have even asked me and my parent peers around the city to join him in transforming Chicago's education system. In the second you say the word "recession" or “budget cuts,” I can think of so many moms and dads with decades of relevant experience who would volunteer their time to transform our city’s schools.

How about “Teach for Chicago” or “Chicago Parents Unite for Education”?  Come on, Mayor Emanuel. Don't get grouchy, get us moving! We’re ready if you are!

Wendy Widom, Families in the Loop

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