CBS reporter Mike Flannery proved this week that you can learn a lot by riding alongside Mayor Daley in his town car for a while--like the fact that the mayor considers the city's failing schools one of his major achievements.
Though the CBS interview mostly covered Daley defending his overnight closing of Meigs Field in 2003 and denying rumors that he wants to put a casino on Northerly Island, the true gem of the piece is, as Prescott Carlson at Chicagoist pointed out, Daley's assertion that the schools are one of his major achievements in his years as mayor:
That's right, Mayor Daley thinks the current state of the Chicago Public Schools is his greatest contribution to the city of Chicago. You know, the school system that can't attract enough good teachers. The one that made cuts in programs like after-school tutoring because the Mayor's slush fund program has left the CPS high and dry to the tune of $500 million. The one that misguidedly shuffles kids around creating gang tension in schools, which sometimes gets teens killed. That's quite an accomplishment, Mayor.
This statement of achievement comes just days after the Chicago Board of Education decided to close, consolidate or rearrange 14 failing public schools--including Phillips and Marshall High Schools, where fewer than 4 percent of students passed state exams last year, the Sun-Times reported.
While Daley is proud of adhering to Daniel Burnham's plan for the city's lakefront and insisting on not destroying it the way "most cities" did--it is pretty shocking that Daley's comment about the schools being his major achievement did not get much play in Flannery's story. He did, however, make sure to gush about the mayor:
For Flannery, that image captures the essence of Daley: his commitment to environmentalism, his willingness to make tough decisions and take the heat -- qualities that make him the envy of mayors around the world and, despite his well-known faults, one of Chicago's greatest leaders ever.
Perhaps Daley's comment about accomplishment was a bit premature--since on Tuesday he discussed the massive changes supposedly coming to Chicago's schools.
"We're trying rebuild every community school in Chicago," Daley said Tuesday. "That's what you have to do. If we don't build community schools where people firmly believe that their child can get a quality education, then we're gonna fail as a society. That is the commitment of rebuilding school after school. And that's what we're doing."