Chicago Sun-Times
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Alderman Ed Burke. Sun-Times files

The City Council's most powerful aldermen on Wednesday defended Mayor Rahm Emanuel's decision to enlist Chicago firefighters in the effort to guarantee the safety of 30,000 students displaced by school closings.

Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), chairman of the City Council's Finance Committee, said he has long encouraged a "more mobile deployment" of the Chicago Fire Department's equipment and personnel.

"I don't see why they can't be out and be the further eyes and ears of the government," Burke said Wednesday. "I don't think anybody is suggesting they're gonna be armed and involved like police officers. Their role will be more expanding the city presence."

Chicagoan Jitu Brown, education organizer with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, testified Tuesday against a plan that would give Chicago Public Schools more time to draw up a list of school closures. In this video taken shortly after appearing before the House Executive Committee, Brown explains his opposition to SB547 to Sun-Times reporter Dave McKinney.

Teacher salaries are only "a piece" of the puzzle when it comes to attracting and retaining good teachers, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday, defending Chicago's decision to pay competitive salaries to start, but fall far short for veteran teachers.