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Chicago-themed cookies were available at the National Press Club on Tuesday for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s appearance. | Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times

Rahm Emanuel in Washington: Pledges Chicago schools will open in fall

SHARE Rahm Emanuel in Washington: Pledges Chicago schools will open in fall
SHARE Rahm Emanuel in Washington: Pledges Chicago schools will open in fall

WASHINGTON — Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday that no matter the staggering financial woes facing the Chicago Public Schools — made worse by Springfield gridlock — classroom doors will open on time in the fall.

“Parents don’t need the anxieties about that. We are going to open up on time. We are going to meet our responsibility. It’s time the State of Illinois meets their responsibility,” Emanuel said during a speech at the National Press Club here.

Noting that poor school districts around the state face a big struggle because of the state budget impasse, the mayor promised, “Chicago will be open for the future. I can’t say that about Illinois.”

Emanuel told a national audience — cameras from all the networks were at his speech — that Gov. Bruce Rauner has not met his obligation to submit a balanced state budget.

In fact, given that the budget impasse has gone on for 700-plus days, Emanuel said it would be more productive for him to submit a budget to state lawmakers than to call a special legislative session.

Taking questions after his speech on higher education, he said the state that doesn’t fund “basic operations” and said Illinois would be “a third world place” without its Chicago economic engine.

Emanuel came to the National Press Club to throw a national spotlight on his new policy to require Chicago Public Schools seniors, starting with the class of 2020, to prove they have post-high school plans before heading to college, the military, a trade or a job before they can get diplomas.

He predicted that eventually the idea that education needs to go past 12th grade will be embraced nationally. “We live in a period where you earn what you learn,” the mayor said.

As for providing funding to make sure counselors help students map their post-high school plans, Emanuel said an immediate cash infusion wasn’t needed, because youngsters — and their counselors and parents — won’t have the new rules with the higher expectations imposed on them at the last-minute.

Kids will be helped “all the way,” Emanuel said. “It’s not like we are going to drop it on them on senior year.”

Before the speech, Emanuel was on Capitol Hill meeting with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who chairs an infrastructure appropriations panel, and at CNN, taping an interview for Fareed Zakaria’s Sunday show.

Joining Emanuel at the event was Amando Rodriguez, the principal of the Goode STEM Academy High School; Tony Tran, a North Side Prep and Truman City College graduate heading to Northwestern University, and Gregory Jones, the principal of Kenwood Academy High School.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. | Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. | Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times

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