Emanuel Won't Send His Kids to CPS Schools, But We Should?

I tend not to write about politics because coming from a split family, I know it is a battle not worth fighting.  But, the more I ponder about our new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, choosing to send his kids to a private school, University of Chicago’s Lab School in Hyde Park, I am mad.

My son is entering Kindergarten at a Chicago Public School in September.  After years of research and planning, my husband and I bought a home in a neighborhood with a school that we hope will be an ideal place for our children to learn and grow.  These schools still need a lot of help.  My sister, a teacher, has provided me graphic details of the problems in some learning environments in Chicago.  “If you want to improve the schools, upper and middle class families need to send their children to our city’s schools,” she added.  Rahm should lead by example.

The majority of my friends and acquaintances were not as lucky as us.  After applying to literally hundreds of schools, they are forced to move to the suburbs because they hadn’t been accepted to any schools that could provide a quality education to their little ones.  Don’t we want these young families to stay in our city?  Do we want to force them to the burbs?

I was hopeful at the prospect of our new mayor with young children to improve upon the Chicago Public School system.

How can he fight for our kids, if he won’t send his own kids to Chicago Public Schools?


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  • Who says you have to send your children to public schools? There is no mandate or obligation to utilize public education. It is a choice. A free choice.

    If you choose public education, fine. That is your choice for your children. You have no right to criticize another parent's right to choose differently for their children. Even if that parent is the mayor. Children are not pawns or window dressing.

    What would you say if Rahm decided to home school or send his children to one of the Jewish schools in the city?

  • From what I hear, primary/elementary schools in the good neighborhoods are really great--heavy parental involvement, wonderful teachers, well maintained schools. But it's when they enter high school that it becomes a game. Lane Tech is one of the better high schools. Jones Prep is another. There are a lot of blogs out there that detail what parents have gone through to get their kids in the good magnet or charter schools.

    Rahm's family chose the right school--if you're a politician. It's a "safer" choice than if he had sent his kids to a north side private school, meaning, it's a an easy target for the press and community activists to label a politician an elitist or a snob. Chosing a south side, school erases the "provincial" aspect that selecting a north side school would've added.

    Having written all that, The University of Chicago Lab School is an extraordinary place. Its connection to the University of Chicago and its libraries are incredible bonuses great north side private schools like The Latin School and Francis Parker can't provide. It's almost like going to a college campus, too.

    I am surprised, given that his wife converted to Judaism, that the family didn't select a school like Ida Crown Jewish Academy, though I doubt Rahm is really modern orthodox.

  • How would you feel if one of his kids got into a school you wanted to send your child too, thereby bumping your child out? Or how about this--they all go to the neighborhood school. Them, and their security detail, and the press, and the weirdos who would do them harm.

  • You all bring up very valid points. I appreciate you commenting and sharing your point of few.

    I try not to judge others style of parenting, and I realize this falls into that category.

    I feel strongly about improving Chicago Public Schools and this decision hits close to home.

  • Yoga Mom, I'm with you. I think I DO have the right to be annoyed, although I am not at all surprised. I think he made it worse with his comment that his kids are so smart -- as if CPS kids are not.

    I'm sorry. It does matter. And, if you are a public figure, you are making that choice for your family. They are already pawns in your ambitions.

  • I have been around and around about this in my mind. Here's what I keep coming back to: I can't wrap my head around expecting something from Rahm (or Obama either for that matter) that I wouldn't do myself. If I were in Rahm's situation -- had his money, resources, options, etc. I absolutely would send my kids to the Lab School if I could. I cannot blame him for making that choice.

    I'm glad he didn't send his kid to a SEHS (even if he got in fairly) because that leaves a spot for someone who deserves it, wants it. and maybe can't afford Latin, Parker, or Lab.

  • I think a major point of the blog which I appreciated is if you don't go to the school you can't improve it. It is very interesting that there are areas with homes upwards of half a million dollars yet the schools in the neighborhood are not very good. Most schools that have improved in the last 10 years are due to strong parent involvement within the school. The principal and teachers can not improve the school on their own. Support our system to change our system.

  • I think he has to do what is right for his kids. If he thinks private is the way to go, good for him. Just because he needs to fix CPS, does NOT mean he needs to use HIS kids as guinea pigs for it. If as a parent, you feel private schools are better, you need to save up the money and send your kid there. Otherwise, you have no choice but to deal with public schools. I have no idea how good/bad public schools are, I went to private grade school and high school.
    I know they are expensive, but I think to-be parents need to take into consideration whether or not they can afford the schools THEY think are good for their kids BEFORE they bring children into this world. Whether those "good" schools be private or public, that's a personal decision.

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