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The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

Cover Stories

December 27, 2005

Asked what she might have done differently in 1993, Chicago Teachers Union spokesperson Jackie Gallagher doesn't hesitate: "I'd turn around and walk out the door."

As the union's mutilated three-year contract ran out in August, the board faced a $400 million deficit-almost 15 percent of its budget. The board, the union and the Legislature each wanted the others to foot the bill. Months later, they all swallowed hard, the board cutting still deeper, the union agreeing to a net decrease in take-home pay and the Legislature OKing a massive borrowing package.

December 27, 2005

In 1994, School Board President D. Sharon Grant and Facilities Director James Harney became the poster children for corruption in the Chicago Public Schools.

In early February, reporters and investigators from WBBM-TV and the Better Government Association (BGA) got their hands on an audit by Arthur Andersen & Co., which the board had been sitting on for months. It showed that under Harney's watch, building contractors had overcharged the board $7 million in a single fiscal year, including a $75 charge for an 80-cent electrical wall plate.

December 27, 2005

In fall 1987, then-Mayor Harold Washington's bid to reform the city's schools was blessed with the city's longest teacher strike. The 19-day walkout triggered the community outcry that resulted some 15 months later in the Chicago School Reform Act.

December 27, 2005

One of the few conclusions that everyone involved in school reform has reached is that local control did not help high schools.

A year into his administration, Paul Vallas acknowledged that progress was "going to take time with the high schools."

In response to steadily declining high school test scores, Vallas reached for a wide variety of remedies.

December 27, 2005

When President Bill Clinton visited Mayer Elementary School in October, he was favorably impressed. "I want what is happening in Chicago to happen all over America," he said, 10 years after then-Secretary of Education William Bennett proclaimed Chicago's school system the worst in the country.

December 27, 2005

Taking office under new financial and labor rules, Mayor Richard M. Daley's school leadership team abruptly reversed more than a decade of program cutbacks.

December 27, 2005

Local school councils have not figured prominently in the efforts of schools chief Paul Vallas to improve Chicago's public schools. He's clashed openly with a number, mainly over principal selection, and routinely belittles LSC advocacy groups.

At the January 1999 School Board meeting, he said, "Tonight, we've heard about quite a few principals that have been doing a good job, but then they are fired [by their LSCs]. We're going to take a look at that."

December 05, 2005

In December, the district will unveil a new high school "score card" that aims to give parents more information to help them pick the best high school for their teenagers.

December 05, 2005

If math teacher Delora Washington had her way, Corliss High in Pullman would be first in line to join the district's initiative to prod schools to adopt new, improved math curricula.

In fact, at the top of her wish list is one of the three mathematics curricula the board has already selected.