Daley, Chico clash over education reform

November 18, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Daley also fired back at former City Colleges president, one-time school board president and current candidate for mayor Gery Chico who says not enough has been done to fix education in Chicago

None of the candidates for mayor has a history with Mayor Richard M. Daley that is as involved as Gery Chico. Daley's one-time chief of staff and parks commissioner has been a key member of the mayor's education braintrust for the past 15 years.

The soon-to-be-retired mayor was back on the education case Thursday morning announcing the plan to re-invent the City Colleges system, where enrollment has increased dramatically in recent years.

"I don't care how many students you enroll, what is the outcome? That is the key for the sake of the students," said Daley.

It was during the questions that the mayor took issue with comments earlier this week by his former school board president and most recently City Colleges president Gery Chico. He is running for Daley's job and says City Hall is not as focused on education reform as it once was.

"The problem is that today we have lost our momentum once again and it looks eerily familiar like it did in 1995," said Chico.

"He was president of City Colleges. He never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever mentioned that to me. And I understand that people are candidates, they will say a lot of things. But never, ever, ever, ever did he ever mention that," said Daley.

On Thursday, Chico declared again that his education program, which promises longer school days, leaner bureaucracy and free laptops, would move beyond Daley's effort.

"One thing I'm not going to do as a candidate for mayor is maintain the status quo or pay homage to the status quo," said Chico.

Candidate Rahm Emanuel issued a statement praising Daley's effort to improve City Colleges calling it "a big step in the right direction. It will refocus our community colleges and make them more attentive to students' needs."

The mayor insisted he didn't want any candidate for his job involving him in the campaign.

"I'm not gonna be part of their, part of their campaign strategy ... I've never lost my passion or commitment for education ... never," said Daley.

The mayor has vowed to remain neutral and not back any of the candidates vying to replace him. He would not comment when asked whether Chico would make a good mayor. He said he had not even read Chico's education plan.

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