The mayor and his wife have decided to send their three kids to the University of Chicago Lab School.
The Emanuels live two blocks from the nearest public school, Ravenswood Elementary, but it was never in the picture for the younger kids and the mayor has never visited. (Full disclosure, my wife is on the LSC there.) Principal Heather Connolly tells me a parent’s choice of schools is too personal a decision to second-guess; but if she’d been asked, she’d have pointed out that Ravenswood teaches reading and writing using the same “basic literacy model” as Lab. (Students advance at their own pace, rather than all kids in a class being made to read the same books at the same time.)
There was a rumor the oldest Emanuel child, Zach, would enter Walter Payton as a freshman in the fall. But Lab makes sense. Everyone goes to the same K-12 school, making life easier on the police detail, and the mayor ducks the no-win choice between Latin and Parker on the north side. There are too many big campaign donors at each school to risk offending half of them.
Sure, Chicago has some great magnet schools. But those lotteries have been held. If the mayor’s daughters showed up at any of them this fall he’d have political hell to pay.
The problem with Lab is that it doesn’t educate kids the way Emanuel says he wants the public schools to educate them. None of the top private schools do. The testing that’s supposed to hold mediocre teachers accountable makes good teachers feel like dogs on leashes.