Tags: rahm emanuel | chicago | mayor | election | education | woes

In Tough Race, Mayor Emanuel Dogged By Chicago Education Woes

By    |   Wednesday, 04 Mar 2015 07:52 PM

Things weren't supposed to turn out this way for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was forced into an April 7 runoff election that will determine his political future.

Four years ago, he swept into office with 55 percent of the vote on the first ballot. But despite a huge fundraising advantage over lesser-known opponents and an in-person endorsement from President Barack Obama, Emanuel was held to 45.4 percent of the vote in last month's first round

Coming in second was Jesus Garcia, a county commissioner with important backing from the Chicago Teachers Union, who won about 34 percent and faces the mayor in next month's runoff.

Teachers’ groups, including national unions like the American Federation of Teachers, have donated at least half-a-million dollars to defeat Emanuel, although the mayor has raised far more money.

Much of the popular opposition to Emanuel's reelection comes from residents of the city's South and West Sides, where many residents are furious over the decision by the mayor's appointed school board to shut down close to 50 public schools deemed to have been underperforming, underutilized or both.

Emanuel and his supporters say the closures were necessitated by the fact that those schools were among the worst in the city, and that the great majority of the students of those schools wound up in better ones.

In one sign of the political environment Emanuel faces, however, Chicagoans overwhelmingly voted for advisory measures urging that city school board members be elected instead of appointed by the mayor.

"That's a pretty strong message to Rahm about what people thought about his education agenda," American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told the New York Times. "His education agenda is based on sanctions and punishing and tests in lieu of the professional judgment of educators."

Despite the opposition from teachers, Emanuel boasts about his education record. He pushed to toughen teacher evaluations and oversaw an expansion of privately run charter schools, which are funded by taxpayers. He demanded an increase in the length of the school day, an action which led to a 2012 teachers' strike.

Teachers said they felt attacked by the mayor and carried signs with messages like "What’s Rahm With You?" during the strike. Now, they hope to defeat Emanuel in the runoff and make him a one-term mayor.

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Things weren't supposed to turn out this way for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was forced into an April 7 runoff election that will determine his political future.
rahm emanuel, chicago, mayor, election, education, woes
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2015-52-04
Wednesday, 04 Mar 2015 07:52 PM
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