In his bid to become the next mayor of Chicago, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is attempting to get voters to focus on his education agenda instead of his lingering residency woes. Changing the subject is good for politics and Emmanuel’s support for vicious education policies mirror that of Arne Duncan, which is no surprise. Emmanuel is a fixer who has steered the liberal Democratic Party towards the right.
According to the newly released policy brief on his campaign website, Emanuel is, “guided by a single mission: to ensure that every child—in every school and every neighborhood—has access to a world-class learning experience from birth.” This is the same old rhetoric that is bandied about by those millionaire politicians who send their kids to private schools, attack teacher unions and look to pull the public carpet from under universal education in favor of privatization and points to the fact that Rahm Emmanuel is little more than a surrogate for his campaign contributors the majority of which are millionaires.
Take for example, Emmanuel’s call for teachers to be fired if they if they do not achieve academic performance targets set forth by the state. Emanuel says he would fire principals or have their schools shuttered. Emmanuel is calling for merit pay which would give ‘high performing’ teachers, those teachers who teach to the test, a salary boost, and layoffs by seniority would end. He also suggests requiring parent signatures on contracts that limit children’s TV and video game time. Of course what Emmanuel does not mention is the growing on-line educational hoax that is taking over education.
The Chicago Teacher’s Union isn’t applauding the Emanuel education agenda. The have heard the same sordid rhetoric before and understand that it is aimed at cutting off the head of collective bargaining for teachers. Union head Karen Lewis told the Chicago Sun Times that the city, “has tried much of what Mr. Emanuel suggests—more autonomy for principals, merit pay, competitive school funding, increasing crony contracts for teacher preparation—but none have actually improved teaching and learning.” In other words it is the same old song with the same old devastating melody.
Three is little doubt we can expect heady platitudes from Emmanuel for the ‘reform’ of education but on the ground if he is elected, Chicago will continue on its path towards Race to the Top and other efforts designed to destroy public education.