Monday, January 17, 2011

tonight's Chicago Tonight forum

Chicago Tonight did a superb job in hosting a fine mayoral candidate forum with Miguel del Valle, Gery Chico, Carol Moseley Braun and Rahm Emanuel. Carol Marin moderated as the candidates took questions from Chicago high school students.

Towards the end of the forum, one student asked a question about how candidates would deal with bullying of GLBT teens. She got some interesting answers. Miguel del Valle gave a thoughtful response, in which he told of his own experiences with bullying when he was in Chicago public schools, and talked about ways to promote a healthier, more accepting culture in schools.

Carol Marin asked the candidates how many of them were bullied when they were in school. Three of the four raised their hands - all except Chico. She then asked how many students in the audience had been bullied in school. Nearly half raised their hands.

Carol Moseley Braun struck the right tone with her answers about public transit, but on this and many other issues, she had few concrete plans on how to implement the ideas she discussed.

I thought that Rahm Emanuel gave better answers to these students than I've seen him give in some other settings.

All the candidates answered with varying degrees of responsiveness and concrete plans to questions about school safety and the quality of a CPS education. No one connected these particular dots in one way that seems rather obvious to me. They mentioned that much youth violence happens in the afternoons, when kids are the streets after school. They talked about how our kids are shortchanged in terms of the number of hours of classroom time they get in a school year, and how it affects the quality of their education.

Wouldn't it be logical to sell a plan for longer school days as both a boost to quality education AND a public safety measure, keeping kids in school longer so that they have more time to learn and less time to get into trouble?

If you missed the forum, you can watch it online here.

I will be curious to see how the candidates respond in Wednesday's forum on environmental issues.

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