Laurene Powell Jobs interviews Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the prospects for change that will benefit students of America in today’s closing plenary at the NewSchools Venture Fund (NSVF) Summit in San Francisco, Calif.
The school system is the single most important economic tool, says Mayor Emanuel. Currently, “we have good teachers and good kids,” says Mayor Emanuel, “in a bad system.” He passionately says, our education system is broken and not working.
“We’re not for reform,” he adds, “we’re for results … As reformers, we’re for education excellence, not educational reform … I think we confuse the means with the ends.”
Mayor Emanuel says, the most important factor in the system is accountability. He wants everyone in the school – teachers, principals and faculty – on a merit pay system, held accountable for the results in the classroom. By including principals in this merit system, no one individual can be singled out. In addition, it creates a team effort to improve the lives of students as no one classroom can tilt the results.
“I’m data driven,” says Mayor Emanuel.
In addition, when educators and administrators are know that parents, students and community members are aware of the results from the classroom, quality improves. In Chicago, he dramatically improved the quality of principals in schools by simply sending student report card home to parents, creating evening parent activities and providing the knowledge to understand what happens in the classroom.
Mayor Emanuel has set goals: new schools, new leaders, improved training, higher standards and increased accountability. He says that AUSL has proven results, turning around failing schools and communities. “Our kids are going to have a full day and a full year equal to their ambitions for the future,” he adds.
Mayor Emanuel says, he believes the changes he’s making in community school is of economic importance while his changes in the elementary school is a moral imperative. He talks about the ways he’s fighting for Chicago kids by looking at the effective results that generate excellence in education.
“If I want choice,” says Mayor Emanuel, “I want it all.” He adds that he’s not in favor or against charter schools, magnets, etc. Rather, he’s in favor of the paths that lead to excellence in education.
As Mayor Emanuel says, go to Chicago to start a new pilot program or initiative, because they’ve got a mayor nuts about education!