The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Mayoral Candidates Bring Tough Love to Educational Forum

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 16, 2010 3:00PM

2010_12_16_BGA.jpg Carol Moseley Braun, the Rev. James Meeks, Gery Chico and City Clerk Miguel del Valle, four of the five primary politicians trailing Rahm Emanuel in the mayoral election polls, gathered at Walter Payton Magnet High School to debate education reform last night in a forum moderated by Better Government Association President Andy Shaw. None of them said that the Chicago Public Schools system was performing well, campaigning as much against the recent record of Mayor Daley as each other.

Asked to grade the performance of the school system, both Braun and Meeks gave the system a "D." Explaining her grade, Braun said, "There are schools in this city that are, for all intents and purposes, drop-out factories. More students drop out than graduate. Teachers just come there to pick up a paycheck.” That last comment probably won't endear her to the teachers' union. Meeks, who supports school vouchers, said that Daley has to shoulder some of the responsibility for the school system's performance.

Meeks, Chico and del Valle agreed that a state income tax hike was likely necessary in order to better fund the school system, with del Valle chiding Braun's opposition to an income tax hike by pointing out the realities of the state's budget crisis. “Anyone who says they are opposed to an income tax increase are not coming face-to-face with the reality in Illinois,” del Valle said.

The candidates also split 3-1 on whether TIFs should be stopped from diverting tax dollars away from the school system and whether the next CEO of the school system should have an educational background.