Rahm Emanuel on Education

Democratic Rep. (IL-5); Chief of Staff-Designee


Expanded graduation rate at city colleges from 7% to 14%

Q: Are there things going on with Wall Street and the broader economy that make it harder to protect the middle class?

EMANUEL: To the larger economy, the biggest thing that is happening is a skills deficit that inhibits us from doing what we need to do. Having a four-year college degree or better is key. I am not for this [smiles mischievously], but B.P. in Indiana is expanding a huuuuuge refinery. They are bringing in people from Alabama and Kentucky because we don't have enough pipefitters up here

Q: This isn't an issue where you seem angry, yelling that Wall Street needs to pay.

EMANUEL: Look, I am not defending Wall Street. Wall Street has screwed up enough. But let me answer it this way: Wall Street is not to blame that we had a 7% graduation rate in city community colleges. I fixed it--it is now 14%. I doubled it in two years. Wall Street is not responsible for that. We allowed the colleges to deteriorate.

Source: The New Republic 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 6, 2014

Canceled teacher raise; lengthened school day

In 2011, thanks to rising salaries, pensions, and health care costs, the Chicago public school system was facing an immediate $700 million deficit. No matter, the teachers were about to get a 4% annual pay raise that would have added another $100 million to the Chicago school district's $700 million deficit.

The situation was unfair and unsustainable. So Mayor Emanuel canceled the teacher's pay raise. "I can't, in good conscience, continue an implicit understanding between parties that left our children on the side of the road," Emanuel declared. "I will not accept our children continuing to get the shaft."

Not only did Emanuel cancel the pay raise, he also demanded a series of reforms, such as lengthening the school day (at 5 hours and 45 minutes, Chicago's elementary schools had the shortest day of any urban district in the country), modest changes in health care, an expansion of charter schools, and merit pay.

Source: Unintimidated, by Scott Walker, p.177-8 , Nov 18, 2013

OpEd: Faced down teacher's unions to push needed reforms

The influx of immigrants increases the urgency of education reform. The problems are particularly pronounced in states with strong teacher unions, which use their political muscle to preserve the status quo at tremendous cost to children. Fortunately, courageous governors and other public officials are placing the interests of children above the special interests and advancing systemic education reform, as illustrated by Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel facing down unions over their opposition to needed reforms. Many more--especially Democrats, who are often susceptible to union influences--need to place the interests of kids first.
Source: Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush, p.181-182 , Mar 5, 2013

Provide more choices within the public school system

It is time to revive the standards movement with the reforms that Bush forgot: attracting top-flight teachers by rewarding them for performance, not just credentials, and by offering higher pay to teach in high-need areas and subjects; expanding preschool and after-school; and providing more choices within the public school system. Each of these reforms has opponents on one side of the aisle or the other, but strong support from principals, teachers, and parents.

And we need to transform the weakest link in our education system: high school. A nation with many of the best colleges on earth must no longer tolerate having some of the worst high schools.

Our current school year wasn't designed for the Information Age; it's a remnant of our agrarian past. We need to increase the amount of time young people spend learning--by lengthening the school day, extending the school year, and keeping young people engaged in learning over the course of the summer.

Source: The Plan, by Rahm Emanuel, p. 73-74 , Jan 5, 2009

Increase college graduation rates, like all other countries

When Americans go to college they're not the only ones whose bottom lines will benefit. Colleges, universities, and the minds and innovations they produce are vital to a nation's success in the global economy.

Although the US is justly proud of having the finest system of colleges and universities in the world, the rest of the world seems to understand the value of college better than we do. America was once first in the world in college enrollment. Now we rank ninth. We're also the only industrialized country not to increase its college graduation rate in the last twenty years.

College is vital to our individual economic success, our collective economic survival, and, above all, our faith in a better future. Yet instead of spreading this miracle of college, Washington let it be priced out of most American's reach. Yet the Bush administration pushed the largest cut in college aid in history, and failed to keep its promise to significantly increase Pell Grants

Source: The Plan, by Rahm Emanuel, p. 66-67 , Jan 5, 2009

Voted YES on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects.

Veto override on the bill, the American Competitiveness Scholarship Act, the omnibus appropriations bill for the Departments of Departments of Education, Health & Human Services, and Labor. Original bill passed & was then vetoed by the President.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. OBEY: This bill, more than any other, determines how willing we are to make the investment necessary to assure the future strength of this country and its working families. The President has chosen to cut the investments in this bill by more than $7.5 billion in real terms. This bill rejects most of those cuts.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. LEWIS: This bill reflects a fundamental difference in opinion on the level of funding necessary to support the Federal Government's role in education, health and workforce programs. The bill is $10.2 billion over the President's budget request. While many of these programs are popular on both sides of the aisle, this bill contains what can rightly be considered lower priority & duplicative programs. For example, this legislation continues three different programs that deal with violence prevention. An omnibus bill is absolutely the wrong and fiscally reckless approach to completing this year's work. It would negate any semblance of fiscal discipline demonstrated by this body in recent years.

Veto message from President Bush:

This bill spends too much. It exceeds [by $10.2 billion] the reasonable and responsible levels for discretionary spending that I proposed to balance the budget by 2012. This bill continues to fund 56 programs that I proposed to terminate because they are duplicative, narrowly focused, or not producing results. This bill does not sufficiently fund programs that are delivering positive outcomes. This bill has too many earmarks--more than 2,200 earmarks totaling nearly $1 billion. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.

Reference: American Competitiveness Scholarship Act; Bill Veto override on H.R. 3043 ; vote number 2007-1122 on Nov 15, 2007

Voted YES on allowing Courts to decide on "God" in Pledge of Allegiance.

Amendment to preserve the authority of the US Supreme Court to decide any question pertaining to the Pledge of Allegiance. The bill underlying this amendment would disallow any federal courts from hearing cases concerning the Pledge of Allegiance. This amendment would make an exception for the Supreme Court.

Proponents support voting YES because:

I believe that our Pledge of Allegiance with its use of the phrase "under God" is entirely consistent with our Nation's cultural and historic traditions. I also believe that the Court holding that use of this phrase is unconstitutional is wrong. But this court-stripping bill is not necessary. This legislation would bar a Federal court, including the Supreme Court, from reviewing any claim that challenges the recitation of the Pledge on first amendment grounds.

If we are a Nation of laws, we must be committed to allowing courts to decide what the law is. This bill is unnecessary and probably unconstitutional. It would contradict the principle of Marbury v. Madison, intrude on the principles of separation of powers, and degrade our independent Federal judiciary.

Opponents support voting NO because:

I was disappointed 4 years ago when two judges of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that our Pledge, our statement of shared national values, was somehow unconstitutional. I do not take legislation that removes an issue from the jurisdiction of this court system lightly. This legislation is appropriate, however, because of the egregious conduct of the courts in dealing with the Pledge of Allegiance.

By striking "under God" from the Pledge, the Court has shown contempt for the Congress which approved the language, and, more importantly, shows a complete disregard for the millions of Americans who proudly recite the Pledge as a statement of our shared national values and aspirations. No one is required to recite the Pledge if they disagree with its message.

Reference: Watt amendment to Pledge Protection Act; Bill H R 2389 ; vote number 2006-384 on Jul 19, 2006

Voted YES on $84 million in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges.

This vote is on a substitute bill (which means an amendment which replaces the entire text of the original bill). Voting YES means support for the key differences from the original bill: lowering student loan interest rates; $59 million for a new Predominantly Black Serving Institution program; $25 million for a new graduate Hispanic Serving Institution program; provide for year- round Pell grants; and repeal the Single Lender rule. The substitute's proponents say:
  • The original bill has some critical shortcomings. First and foremost, this substitute will cut the new Pell Grant fixed interest rate in half from 6.8% to 3.4%, to reduce college costs to those students most in need.
  • It would also establish a new predominantly black-serving institutions programs to boost college participation rates for low-income black students, and a new graduate Hispanic-serving institution program.
  • As we saw from 1995 to 2000, the questions employers were asking was not your race, not your ethnicity, not your religion, they wanted to know if you had the skills and talents to do the job. Most often today, those skills and that talent requires a higher education. A college education is going to have to become as common as a high school education.
    Reference: Reverse the Raid on Student Aid Act; Bill HR 609 Amendment 772 ; vote number 2006-080 on Mar 30, 2006

    Offer every parent Charter Schools and public school choice.

    Emanuel adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

    Create World-Class Public Schools
    Now more than ever, quality public education is the key to equal opportunity and upward mobility in America. Yet our neediest children often attend the worst schools. While lifting the performance of all schools, we must place special emphasis on strengthening those institutions serving, and too often failing, low-income students.

    To close this achievement and opportunity gap, underperforming public schools need more resources, and above all, real accountability for results. Accountability means ending social promotion, measuring student performance with standards-based assessments, and testing teachers for subject-matter competency.

    As we demand accountability, we should ensure that every school has the resources needed to achieve higher standards, including safe and modern physical facilities, well-paid teachers and staff, and opportunities for remedial help after school and during summers. Parents, too, must accept greater responsibility for supporting their children’s education.

    We need greater choice, competition, and accountability within the public school system, not a diversion of public funds to private schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers. With research increasingly showing the critical nature of learning in the early years, we should move toward universal access to pre-kindergarten education.

    Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC2 on Aug 1, 2000

    Rated 100% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes.

    Emanuel scores 100% by the NEA on public education issues

    The National Education Association has a long, proud history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States," the NEA has remained constant in its commitment to its original mission as evidenced by the current mission statement:

    To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.
    In pursuing its mission, the NEA has determined that it will focus the energy and resources of its 2.7 million members toward the "promotion of public confidence in public education." The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
    Source: NEA website 03n-NEA on Dec 31, 2003

    • Click here for definitions & background information on Education.
    • Click here for a profile of Rahm Emanuel.
    • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Rahm Emanuel.
    • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Rahm Emanuel.
    Other big-city mayors on Education: Rahm Emanuel on other issues:

    Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee)
    Bill de Blasio (D,NYC)
    Rahm Emanuel (D,Chicago)
    Bob Filner (D,San Diego)
    Steven Fulop (D,Jersey City)
    Eric Garcetti (D,Los Angeles)
    Mike Rawlings (D,Dallas)
    Marty Walsh (D,Boston)

    Former Mayors:
    Rocky Anderson (I,Salt Lake City)
    Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee,WI)
    Mike Bloomberg (I,New York City)
    Cory Booker (D,Newark,NJ)
    Jerry Brown (D,Oakland,CA)
    Julian Castro (D,San Antonio,TX)
    Rudy Giuliani (R,New York City)
    Phil Gordon (D,Phoenix)
    Tom Menino (D,Boston)
    Dennis Kucinch (D,Cleveland,OH)
    Michael Nutter (D,Philadelphia)
    Sarah Palin (R,Wasilla,AK)
    Annise Parker (D,Houston)
    Jerry Sanders (R,San Diego)
    Antonio Villaraigosa (D,Los Angeles)
    Civil Rights
    Foreign Policy
    Free Trade
    Govt. Reform
    Gun Control
    Health Care
    Homeland Security
    Social Security
    Tax Reform

    Page last updated: Mar 25, 2021