Rahm Emanuel left town just as his office confirmed the controversial decision on Thursday. The mayor, who controls the Chicago Public Schools, will not enroll his own children in them. They will attend an elite and expensive private school on the South Side.
With annual tuition at the University of Chicago Lab Schools ranging from $21,000 to nearly $25,000 per student, millionaires Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule will spend around $70,000 a year for private, secular educations there for their three children.
Throughout his campaign, and after his election, the mayor insisted the decision to send his children to public, private or religious schools was a personal, family matter.
The aldermen ABC7 talked to at City Hall Thursday morning agreed.
"Where you send your kids is a decision between the two parents, and if that's the decision that they make then you have to respect that," said 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale.
Mayor Emanuel is the ultimate boss of the 430,000-student Chicago Public Schools system, the third largest in the country. He is a harsh critic of the CPS graduation rate, its lengths of school day and year, and his predecessor Richard M. Daley's deals with the teachers union.
"Our children got the shaft," Emanuel said last month.
The mayor's home is on the city's North Side. If he had chosen public education, his younger daughters could have attended the Ravenswood Elementary and his older son Amundsen High School.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis says she hopes Emanuel implements Lab School features -- including smaller class sizes, teachers aides, art and physical education programs -- into the public schools.
"I would never tell someone what they have to do for their family and what their options are," Lewis said, "but I would hope that they would see the value of that kind of education for all of our children."
The U of C Lab School begins its fall semester on September 6, the day after Labor Day.
President Barack Obama's children attended the Lab School prior to their move to Washington. Emanuel left Chicago Thursday to attend a fundraiser for the president in New York.