below, from Emanuel campaign.....
RAHM EMANUEL DELIVERS EDUCATION POLICY ADDRESS
Calls for every child in Chicago to have access to a world-class education
Today, mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel unveiled his plan to ensure that every child - in every school and every neighborhood in Chicago - has access to a world-class education. His plan strengthens the key components necessary to provide our students with the learning experience they deserve: the best possible leadership in our schools and classrooms, and the involvement of everyone in our community, from parents to business, civic and community leaders.
Over the past few weeks, Rahm has traveled across the city, meeting with principals, educators, and students. From Dodge Renaissance Academy and Orr Public School to the Woodlawn School, he has discussed how to prepare our children to succeed. Many of the people Rahm met in these discussions joined him today, as well as other Chicagoans committed helping all of our students excel.
PREPARED REMARKS BY RAHM EMANUEL OUTLINING HIS EDUCATION POLICY
Remarks as prepared
Thank you very much for that wonderful introduction. I wish my parents were here today. I don't think they ever heard such nice words about me from a principal.
I met Principal Hightower during my Tell It Like It Is tour. She invited me to visit Bethune, which is one of about a dozen Chicago schools I've visited so far. I was very impressed by what Principal Hightower, the teachers and parents have accomplished here since the school turnaround began.
What's being accomplished at Bethune makes me believe there's nothing wrong with the Chicago public schools that can't be cured by what's right with the Chicago public schools. The job of the next mayor is to provide the resources and support so dynamic leaders like Principal Hightower and her teachers can bring the tools we need to see excellence in the classroom.
Now, improving schools and access to education is not a new fight for me. I might not have been the world's best student - or even the best student in my family. But my parents always stressed the value of a good education. In fact, they used to post our report cards on the refrigerator for all our friends and family to see. It was an early example of transparency that I didn't really appreciate. But I took the lesson to heart and now torment my children as my parents did me.
During my six years of representing a good portion of Chicago in Congress, I worked hard to help our local schools. I brought back federal assistance to strengthen them, and additional money to fund after school programs so that our kids have opportunities for extended learning.
I also won funding to expand the Chicago Teachers Academy and to extend its classes to a new high school. That school provides a superb education to local students by pairing promising young teachers with experienced mentors. Those young teachers graduate from the Academy with a Master's degree in education and a commitment to teach for a minimum of five years in Chicago's public schools - and 80 percent of those teachers stay beyond the required time.
I've also worked hard to make college more accessible for students from working families. After hearing from Chicago Fire Captain Pat Kehoe about the difficulty of filling out the federal student loan application, I returned to Congress and quickly introduced a bill to simplify that form. I was proud when President Obama administered these changes - just as I was proud to work with him to consolidate three separate college tax credits into a single higher education credit.
And as President Obama's chief of staff, I worked closely with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to implement the Race to the Top program, which has ignited a revolution of school reforms in states across the country. It's a program I'd like to replicate right here in Chicago.
The fact is that school reform is not just an issue for educators or policymakers. It's an issue for residents across our city. What Chicagoans understand fundamentally, in their heart and soul, is that education is, in large part, the answer to our other major challenges.
Educate Chicago's children, and we can attract the new businesses and good jobs of tomorrow.
Attract more good jobs with higher pay, and that helps our city's revenue base.
Give young people hope and a future, and we can reduce the attraction of gangs, guns and drugs.
Our goal should be nothing less than ensuring that every child in this city has access to a world-class education, so they can develop their God-given talents, pursue their dreams, and compete and win.
Not only is this critical to their future as individuals. It's also critical to Chicago's future. You cannot be a world-class city if your schools and students cannot perform at world-class standards.
To his great credit, Mayor Daley understood this - long before education became a focus for other mayors. Mayor Daley's made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of Chicago children. For his willingness to tackle this huge challenge, he deserves our gratitude and respect.
Mayor Daley would also be the first to tell you that the job is not yet finished. That's why the next mayor must renew our commitment to pushing reforms that will improve Chicago's schools and lead an era of reform here at home.
I believe the education of our children stands on three strong pillars: involved parents; dedicated principals; and quality teachers. Each of these pillars is critical to our students' success.
Yes, there are other elements of education that are important. Do we need good, up-to-date school buildings? Yes. Must we keep class size small? Yes. But without a good, qualified teacher, those things cannot guarantee learning.
We must also recognize that this is an era of limited resources. The CPS budget faces a deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars. Chicagoans who are struggling in this economy simply cannot tolerate higher property taxes. So we have to set priorities, make some tough decisions, and focus on the fundamentals.
And here's the truth: The single most important element of a child's education is something we cannot legislate, something we cannot fund - it's an involved and committed parent. Learning doesn't begin at the schoolhouse door; it starts at the front door of the home.
Our teachers simply cannot succeed without parents as partners. And while government must do its part, it's no substitute for a committed parent. Government can't teach children right from wrong or the consequences of bad choices. And government can't convince children of the value of an education. That is the job of a parent.
So one of the most important things we can do to keep school reform moving forward in Chicago is to expect, encourage and entice every parent to get involved. This requires that we provide them with more information. There's no reason the report cards that principals receive today showing their school's performance should not be shared with the parents whose children go to that school. Parents deserve to know what the principals know. And if I'm mayor, they will.
But parents have to do their part, as well. If they find their children stuck in a school that simply isn't doing the job, we should empower them to force the needed changes.
I believe we should consider allowing a majority of parents to legally force a failing school's transformation - through administrative changes, bringing in a new operator, or by shutting it down and starting over with a charter, a school of excellence, or any other model that the community chooses. We simply cannot tolerate schools that fail year after year after year.
Giving parents this power would encourage them to play a larger role in their children's education. And with greater power would come greater responsibility.
We should also be the first city in the nation to institute parent-teacher contracts at the beginning of the school year. Those contracts will commit each parent to helping in their child's education by limiting the hours spent on TV and video games, and by reading together for a set amount of time each week.
We'll start with the parents of children in pre-K and kindergarten, and then look to expand it. We'll empower parents with a fuller knowledge of their school's performance, and ask more of them in return.
I call this a new grand bargain: more accountability with more responsibility.
Good schools like Bethune don't discourage parental involvement. In fact, they demand it.
And good principals, like Ms. Hightower, don't duck accountability; they embrace it.
We need to ensure that every public school in Chicago has a dedicated principal who's not afraid to make changes or look for new ways to succeed. We should give them the independence they need and, in return, hold them personally accountable for their school's performance.
As mayor, I would seek to implement a performance contract for each school in the CPS system. We'll be the first city in the nation to adopt such a district-wide plan.
These five-year contracts between each principal and CPS would set clear expectations for student achievement - and hold the principal accountable for the results. Such performance contracts have helped spur improvements in alternative public schools in Chicago and across the nation, but now we will be the first to implement it in every school.
It's time to spell out our expectations for every single public school in Chicago and challenge our principals and teachers to meet them.
Setting explicit performance goals will provide an incentive for principals to hire the very best teachers. Under my plan, CPS would set a minimum qualification standard for every teacher and pre-approve a pool of effective teachers for hiring each year so that principals can hire the best of the best.
Finally, we will further incentivize principals to innovate and improve their schools by initiating a local version of President Obama's Race to the Top program.
As Mayor, I will help personally raise 30 million dollars every year from our business and philanthropic communities, and challenge schools across the city to compete for this money. If we can raise 75 million dollars in an effort to host the Olympic Games, we can raise a fraction of that amount to reward local schools and parents that excel.
The ideas and programs of the winning schools will be shared with all other schools in the system. In this way, every school can benefit from this new Chicago Education Innovation Fund.
The final pillar of education reform is putting a quality teacher in every classroom. There are many effective, hard-working teachers in classrooms all across Chicago who are doing tremendous work. I see them every week when I visit schools. And many are often under difficult conditions. Those teachers deserve our gratitude, our appreciation and our respect.
We need to retain these good teachers, and attract others like them by rewarding them for superior performance. That's why I will push to create a new salary scale for teachers so that the best of the best can reach top compensation in eight years. The most effective teachers, based on student performance, will qualify for bonuses if they transfer to a low-performing school. It's time to finally start treating our teachers like the professionals they are and reward them for excellence, just like they would be rewarded for excelling in any other profession.
To help teachers improve, we'll double the number of slots in our urban teacher residency programs. This will double the number of academies from 7 to 14 and create an expanding corps of 160 top-flight teachers each year - all committed to spending a minimum of five years in Chicago's public schools.
Finally, it's difficult for Chicago teachers to impart the knowledge and skills their students require when our children spend less time in the classroom than just about anywhere else in the nation.
Think about a young girl starting kindergarten here in Chicago while her cousin begins school in Houston. Twelve years later they both graduate from high school - one in Houston and one in Chicago. But the cousin in Houston will have spent the equivalent of four more years in a classroom than the girl who graduated from Chicago's public schools. Four more years. The equivalent of a full high school education. This is unacceptable - our children will never lead with that huge deficit of time in the classroom. And it puts Chicago at a disadvantage in attracting new businesses and their knowledge-based jobs.
So, as mayor, I will work with teachers and non-profit organizations to expand early childhood education programs, extend the school day and lengthen the school year. The extra instruction time will help our teachers meet the academic goals we expect from our students.
To oversee these ambitious changes, the next mayor will need a strong and effective partner in the CEO for the schools. There has been much discussion about the appropriate experience for this position. Should it be a professional educator? Or someone from a business background?
In my view, this is a false choice.
The next schools CEO cannot be an educator without strong leadership ability. Nor can it be - or should it be - a businessperson without a thorough knowledge of education and a zeal for reform. I am confident that we can find an individual who combines both of these attributes - and I will.
The ideas I've laid out here today will keep Chicago in the forefront of school reform in our nation.
The first city to spur innovation by creating an innovation fund to reward schools that try revolutionary methods to involve parents, train and support teachers, and get student results in new ways. The first city to hold every principal accountable by having them agree to a performance contract. The first city to give parents the power to turn their child's school around. And the first city to adopt new college- and career-ready curriculum so that our children graduate with the knowledge to succeed.
Some call Chicago the second city. On education, we will be the first.
Implementing these reforms won't be easy. Meaningful change never is.
It requires a strong partnership among parents, teachers and principals.
It requires cooperation from leaders of business and labor.
It requires the personal commitment of every parent of a child in our public schools.
Most of all, it requires a mayor who has the vision and determination to inspire a new bargain that gives greater accountability to principals, teachers and parents, but is demanding more responsibility.
Despite budget pressures and social problems, the goal of keeping Chicago in the forefront of school reform and innovation is not beyond our reach.
A generation ago, the U.S. Education Secretary called Chicago's public schools the worst in the nation. Today, the Education Secretary comes from Chicago - because we had the courage and leadership to confront a system that was broken.
I want to end where we began - with Ms. Hightower and the kids at Bethune. Just a few years ago in this very same building with the very same kids was a failing school. Today, math scores for fifth-graders have doubled. So has the number of third-graders who meet or exceed ISAT reading standards. The difference? A new vision, a new level of leadership, a new quality of teachers. And a better future for our kids.
There's nothing more important for Chicago - or for Chicago's next mayor.
We have made significant progress from the day when Chicago was considered to have the poorest performing public schools in the nation. But we still have far to go. Rahm knows that this will only be achieved when we have the best possible leadership in our schools and our classrooms, and the involvement of everyone in our community - from parents to business, civic and community leaders - to help our children take full advantage of their potential.
Rahm's education agenda 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. To achieve this, he has put forward specific proposals around three themes - empowering principals with greater autonomy and holding them accountable for their school's performance; giving teachers the resources they need to succeed and rewarding them for excellence; and providing parents with more information about their child's education so that they can be more actively involved.
EMPOWER PRINCIPALS AND HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE
Principals are the mayor of their school - they should be given greater autonomy and rewarded for their successes. But they must also be held accountable. Rahm will empower principals and their leadership team with more authority to innovate and individualize their school's academic strategy while requiring them to sign a performance contract that sets clear goals and holds principals and staff accountable for results.
Give leaders greater autonomy to innovate in their school
To support school leaders, Rahm will demand a complete overhaul of the policies that turn principals into administrative compliance officers rather than giving them the time and resources they need to lead their school. He will start by streamlining and eliminating unnecessary rules that get in the way of leading. He will task the new CEO with shrinking the district office footprint so that all available resources are given directly to schools. A smaller, focused, and more nimble district office will be dedicated to service, support and accountability - not control and compliance.
Principals that demonstrate results will receive increased autonomy - freedom from additional district requirements and the ability to personalize their use of time, people and money. Instead of receiving mandates from the district about the use of funds, successful principals will receive greater authority to purchase services from inside or outside the district, or invest in increased support for students, teachers and parents.
Create the Chicago Education Innovation Fund
Rahm worked with President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the federal level to pass Race to the Top, which sparked a revolution in education policy reform around the country. He is now proposing Chicago's own innovation fund to spur reforms in practice - in classrooms and schools across Chicago.
Using $30 million in private capital raised from local businesses and the philanthropic community, the Chicago Education Innovation Fund would entice schools across the city to compete to achieve the most - measured by their ability to involve parents, train and support teachers, and get student results in new and innovative ways. Award recipients will be recommended and ranked by an independent panel of Chicago and the nation's top education leaders and practitioners.
Broaden the impact of the extraordinary principals within the district
There are a number of highly effective principals and leadership teams already within CPS and Rahm will provide them the opportunity to manage additional schools, ultimately creating a network of schools that they would lead. Allowing these visionary, passionate educators to lead additional schools is a cost-effective way to broaden their reach and accelerate student learning and academic growth for more CPS students.
Require a performance contract for all public schools
Performance contracts have proven to be a strong accountability mechanism in Chicago's alternative public schools and in high performing systems nationwide. Schools leaders are forced to meet key performance standards or risk losing control of their schools. As traditional public school leaders receive greater autonomy, they should also be expected to meet performance benchmarks and innovate in their schools. A five-year contract - signed between the principal and CPS - will set clear expectations and accountability. Any leadership team that fails to live up to the terms of the performance contract can lose control of the school. The school could then be closed, turned over to new management, or have its leadership team and staff replaced.
Performance contracts will cover more than growth in standardized test scores. Principals will be expected to meet certain standards on student and staff attendance, parent involvement, graduation rates, fiscal responsibility, and effective school organization.
Cultivate the next generation of leaders
Chicago's kids depend on exceptional teachers and leaders. With a deep bench of diverse, effective and well-supported educators focused on student learning and performance, Chicago can outperform any city in the world. Rahm supports the creation of a Chicago Leadership Academy to identify, recruit and support the next generation of leaders for Chicago Public Schools. The Leadership Academy will be a new non-profit organization, funded by both philanthropic and district investments, and charged with delivering a minimum of 50 new principals per year.
GIVE TEACHERS THE RESOURCES THEY NEED TO THRIVE
Chicago's kids deserve nothing less than the most exceptional teachers in the country. Rahm's strategy begins by building a pipeline of highly-effective teachers, providing them quality support throughout their tenure, and creating systems in every school to incentivize accountability and improve performance.
Double the number of teacher training academies
By the end of 2010, there will be seven urban teacher residency programs in Chicago. They combine a full year of Master's Degree level university course work with a full year of progressively responsible teaching under the guidance of a mentor teacher. After their year of training, successful graduates are employed as teachers in one of Chicago's schools, where they receive ongoing coaching and support. More than 80 percent of the program's 368 graduates over the past eight years are still teaching.
Rahm would like to double the number of academies and allow the graduates to teach in any Chicago public school - traditional, turnaround, magnet or charter. The current teacher-training program produces 50-70 new teachers each year, at a cost to CPS of $3.5 million. The program could be scaled up over two years to produce 150 new teachers a year, at a cost to CPS of about $10 million. Training academies would also have capacity to re-train teachers already serving in Chicago to prepare them specifically for making a difference in the city's most underperforming schools. The program would be funded with savings from the district's professional development budget, which has demonstrated little evidence of effectiveness.
Incentives for highly-accomplished teachers to take on the toughest challenges
Rahm believes that it is time to finally start treating our teachers like the professionals they are and reward them for excellence, just like they would be rewarded for excelling in any other profession. He wants to create real incentives for highly accomplished teachers to work in schools that need the most help, and implement a new salary scale so new teachers can reach top compensation in eight years if they are the best of the best, and twelve years if they are very good. Those who are most effective will be eligible for bonuses if they transfer to a low performing school and help to improve it.
Make performance matter
In Chicago's schools, layoffs are typically done by seniority. Rahm will change that policy to ensure that those who are laid off are the least effective teachers, not the most junior. This will require a new teacher evaluation system based on a comprehensive assessment of instructional quality and student performance, not simply results from one annual exam.
ENGAGE PARENTS AND EXPECT INVOLVEMENT
Study after study shows that a child's best chance at success depends on an engaged parent or guardian. Rahm's agenda aims to keep parents better informed about the school their child attends, keeps them updated about their child's progress, and helps to empower them to play a more significant role in their child's education beginning at birth. Increasing school choice, and making the process of enrolling in CPS schools of choice more transparent and more fair will be hallmarks of this parent-friendly agenda. In return, he will call on all parents to commit to help their child succeed by entering into a signed agreement with their child's teacher that outlines clear expectations for how they will help their child outside of the classroom.
A report card for every school
Parents deserve a report card that grades their child's school, not just their child's work. Every Chicago Public School principal currently receives a report card with a top-level analysis of how their schools are doing and whether they are truly organized for improvement. Rahm is proposing today that a simplified version of these report cards be shared with parents so that they have the necessary information to participate in their child's education and push for higher standards in their local school.
The report card will include letter grades that rate criteria such as school improvement and organization, school safety, student attendance, staff attendance, graduation rate and entry into post secondary education.
Replace Assistant Principal with Director of Family and Community Engagement
The principal manages the inner-workings of the school and is accountable for its success. Rahm would like the second-in-command to be charged with managing the outer-workings of the school: the relationship with every child's parent. He will replace the Assistant Principal role with a Director of Family and Community Engagement. The individual would manage all extended time programming (extended day, week and year) and would be charged with parent organizing, training, and enlisting assets of parents into the school. The traditional duties of an Assistant Principal - discipline, cafeteria supervision and overall operations - would be distributed among staff.
Introduce parent-teacher agreements
Each day, parents trust teachers to nurture and educate their children. Teachers should also expect that parents continue to provide education leadership at home. Rahm will introduce a parent-teacher agreement to be signed by both parties at the beginning of the school year and monitored by the school's Director of Family and Community Engagement. These agreements, which are prevalent in charter and independent schools, build clear expectations for how parents should provide extended educational opportunities for their children - from watching less television to reading together each night.
Empower parents to change their child's failing school
For schools that are chronically failing, Rahm wants to give parents the legal power to transform their child's school. Under this model, if a majority of parents in a failing school sign a petition, they can force a transformation of the school - either by inviting a new school operator to take it over, by forcing certain administrative changes, or by shutting it down outright. This plan empowers parents to take ownership over the success of their child's school.
Help parents be their children's first teacher and best advocate
To ensure that parents are equipped to understand and take on their role as their child's first--and most important--teacher, every family would have access to trained home visitors in the weeks before and after a new birth, in order to improve health and birth outcomes for children and help connect families with needed services in their community. Every early learning program would have an evidence-based curriculum that includes ongoing parent coaching and mentoring in the early years.
PROVIDE STUDENTS EXTENDED EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
Give students more learning time and scale digital learning opportunities
Chicago has one of the shortest school days and shortest school years in the country. A student graduating high school in Chicago has had four years less of classroom instruction time than her counterpart in Houston. Until learning time is extended, particularly for students that need it most, achievement won't dramatically improve.
Chicago's teachers are committed to improving student outcomes and often are employed by CPS in various after school programs throughout the school year. However, the current contract restricts learning time and puts our children and our city at a competitive disadvantage. Rahm will work with the teachers' union to lengthen the learning day and school year because it's the right investment in our children and our city's global standing.
Increased learning time will include academic, arts and athletic programs beyond the traditional school day - building on the success of the community school model in place in some Chicago schools - and forging new, creative partnerships with community and civic organizations that extend the school day, week and year. Given the cost-effectiveness of technology, we must leverage it to deliver instruction in new ways. Rahm will bring together the best thinkers and practitioners on digital learning opportunities and develop a plan for the city to invest in projects to research, pilot and create best practices in the classroom around the digital learning space.
A curriculum to keep Chicago students competitive
Rahm has proposed a Chicago Curriculum Project to ensure our children are the most competitive and college-ready in the nation. Specifically, this public-private initiative will make Chicago the first city to meet the new federal college- and career-ready curriculum standards. These standards have been developed by a bipartisan group of state governors and chief state school officers to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn while giving flexibility to teachers to determine how best to help students meet them. Nearly 40 states - including Illinois - have adopted the standards, but no municipality has yet to integrate the standards into local curriculum.
The Project will work with teachers, administrators and parents to propose and assess changes to the city's curriculum to meet these new standards, will pilot in several public and alternative schools, and will build capacity through teacher training. Throughout the process, the university community will be engaged to provide content support to CPS schools and teachers.
Expand access to early learning
Rahm wants all children in Chicago to enter kindergarten ready to learn. Children who don't get high quality early learning opportunities are 50% more likely to be placed in special education, 25% more likely to drop out of school, 60% more likely to never attend college, and 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime. Rahm will invest in early learning as a proven strategy to narrow the achievement gap that appears long before children enter kindergarten.
Rahm is committed to addressing the disparities in access to early learning opportunities in some of Chicago's fastest growing communities. To ensure that Chicago's highest-risk children are able to enter, and stay enrolled, in high quality early childhood programs, he will provide incentives to encourage both community- and school-based programs to provide full-day, full-year services, and waivers for child care co-pays in economic hard times.
Access to transparent information is the key to parents' ability to make informed decisions about their child's education. Rahm will create an easy-to-use, clearly-defined online system for parents to access information on the quality of available early childhood education options, modeled after K-12 school report cards.
The High School Challenge
While supporting principals, teachers and parents will improve school performance throughout the city, Chicago needs to invest dedicated effort, ingenuity and resources into the city's high schools. While improving slightly over the last decade, Chicago's drop out rates remain stubbornly high and those who go on to college often don't have the high school education needed to succeed.
Rahm will focus first on turning around Chicago's dropout factories (and their feeder schools), which account for 50% of Chicago school dropouts. This will include creating new school options for families - replicating successful neighborhood high schools, magnet schools, developing new schools, leveraging successful turnaround efforts and building a deeper network of alternative schools for students who do not succeed in the mainstream.
Tackling Chicago's toughest schools will require more than creating new school options. It will depend on targeted investments in increased social supports for children with the greatest barriers to academic learning - social workers, college counselors, and staff charged with intervening and supporting students before they drop out.
And it will depend on the city stepping up. Rahm will incent community based organizations, citywide non-profits, universities, commercial companies and other civic institutions to bring their people and programs to bear to support particular struggling schools by providing mentors, tutors, job training, access to college courses, and in classroom support to schools that need it most.
A RECORD OF PUTTING OUR CHILDREN FIRST
Rahm has always believed that a quality education serves as the foundation of the American economy. He has worked to make America's public schools the best in the world, to make college more affordable, and to ensure children across Chicago have access to innovating learning strategies and great teachers.
Led efforts to promote innovation in America's schools
As chief of staff to President Obama, Rahm worked with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to create and implement the new Race To The Top challenge. This initiative has spurred a race to reform America's public schools so that every child has access to a complete and competitive education. Backed by a $4.35 billion investment, the reforms made under Race to the Top will help prepare America's students to graduate ready for college and career by promoting competition among states to have the most innovative and successful schools in the nation.
Took the corporate middle man out of the student lending process
Rahm helped lead the Obama administration's effort to reform the student lending process - removing the corporate middle-man so that loans could be made directly to students and the federal government could
save $80 billion in taxpayer dollars. Those savings were then reinvested in our children through expanded Pell grants and incentives and tax credits to help make college more affordable.
Invested in America's community colleges
Rahm played a central role in crafting and pushing the Obama administration's American Graduation Initiative, a strategy designed to boost graduation rates, improve facilities and develop new technology at community colleges. The program will create an additional 5 million community college graduates by 2020 and new initiatives to teach Americans the skills they will need to compete with workers from other nations.
Expanded teacher training opportunities in Chicago public schools
In 2005, Rahm secured $2 million in state funding for a teacher training academy that was jointly implemented by the Chicago Public Schools and the Academy for Urban School Leadership. This particular program serves as a model for the type that Rahm has proposed to double.
Fought for Chicago's public schools
As a congressman representing Chicago's north and west sides, Rahm fought for additional funding for the Chicago Public School system. He helped secure a new gifted program at a local elementary school and secured a $1.2 million juvenile justice grant for CPS.
Made college more accessible
After meeting a parent who said that they weren't able to complete the lengthy and confusing FAFSA student loan form, Rahm introduced the College Made EZ Act to create a simpler application for college aid. He had the honor of watching his proposals get implemented under President Obama.
Simplified higher education tax breaks
Rahm also introduced the Universal Higher Education and Lifetime Learning Act to strengthen and simplify the three existing tax breaks students currently use to help pay for higher education: the Hope Scholarship, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the deduction for tuition and fees. His plan was incorporated into the Recovery Act and signed into law by President Obama.
Pushed for expanded school choice
Seeing the success of charter schools in Chicago, Rahm introduced the Pell Grants for Kids Act to expand opportunities for students in low-performing schools to switch to a charter school. His legislation would have authorized $300 million to create new charter schools and expand existing charter schools to accommodate more students.