No policy arena has received more attention from Chicago's mayoral contenders than education. At this stage in the race, candidates Gery Chico, Rahm Emanuel, and James Meeks have all released proposals detailing their plans for Chicago Public Schools (read them here, here, and here, respectively).
Among the highlights of what we know about the candidates' education ideas so far: Chico and Meeks' plans both endorse providing vouchers to CPS students; Chico wants 30,000 and Meeks says 50,000 is the right number. Emanuel's proposal includes creating a local version of the Obama administration's Race to the Top program and he has signaled that more school turnarounds are likely on the way. The always controversial practice of shuttering CPS schools came up Tuesday at the New Chicago 2011 forum, with Carol Moseley Braun saying school closings shouldn't happen without engaging parents. Miguel del Valle criticized a "parallel system of public education in Chicago" on Tuesday, saying, "It's time to focus on neighborhood schools ... that can be done without closing schools." Danny Davis has endorsed electing the Chicago Board of Education.
At an education forum last night, meanwhile, Meeks, del Valle, and Chico all endorsed Gov. Pat Quinn's pitch to raise the state income tax from 3 to 4 percent, Ward Room reports, but Braun is opposed. It's good to hear that the candidates are thinking about how state government relates to CPS. Whether it's Quinn's tax plan or the upcoming education reform fight, Springfield is awash in schools issues these days.
The debate about education continues tonight, as the Chicago Teachers Union holds their own mayoral event on the Near South Side.