Chicago at a ‘teachable moment’ for school improvement

When Richard J. Daley, the longest sitting mayor in Chicago history and the first to voluntarily vacate the office in half a century, announced that he would not seek re-election, residents of every background and political orientation experienced a kind of collective light-headedness. The political moment–part hope, part fear, part giddy speculation–opened a floodgate. Veteran politicians as well as novices rushed to create exploratory committees and began gathering petitions and raising money for possible campaigns. Community organizers mapped strategies to mobilize people around key issues. Artists and activists came together in imaginative interventions. The possibility for dramatic changes in Chicago A.D. (After Daley) was a dizzying and seductive prospect. And yet candidates across the board, when asked about their policies concerning education and public schools, betrayed a lack of vision and imagination.