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Giving Compass' Take:
• Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, discusses lessons he has learned in education reform and shares what he thinks schools need to be successful.
• What can education policymakers learn from Emanuel's mistakes in ed reform?
• Read about the timeline for universal pre-k in Chicago.
After eight years running Chicago’s schools, outgoing mayor Rahm Emanuel says he’s learned a few things — including that principals are important and students benefit from health and social services.
In an essay published this week in The Atlantic, Emanuel says he now knows that the “old gospel of education reform” isn’t what’s needed to fix schools or help students succeed.
The final paragraph of the piece summarizes its content and tone (though Emanuel’s famous snark shines through more strongly in other places):
For most of my career, I preached the old gospel of education reform. But now research and experience suggest that policy makers need to embrace a new path forward and leave the old gospel behind. Principals, not just teachers, drive educational gains. The brain-dead debate between charter and neighborhood schools should be replaced with a focus on quality over mediocrity. To get kids to finish high school, the student experience should center on preparing them for what’s next in life. Finally, classroom success hinges on the support that students get outside school. If other cities follow Chicago’s lead in embracing those ideas, they’re likely to also replicate its results.
The essay offers some new insights about Emanuel’s personal evolution on education, revealing, for example, that the rapper Common’s mother narrowly stopped the mayor from signing off on a contract that limited principals’ latitude to hire teachers.
Emanuel’s description of himself as an education-policy maverick is overblown, though. Many others in the reform movement that he says has not changed have long argued that a school’s quality is more important than who manages it; that students’ readiness for college and careers is just as important as whether they graduate from high school; and that schools benefit when principals are empowered.
Read the full article about Rahm Emanuel by Philissa Cramer at Chalkbeat