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Aldermen Thu Aug 13 2009

Was Alderman Munoz Wrong?

Kids getting preferential admission because of who their parents are is wrong--although, of course, it happens in higher education all the time and basically creates America's version of a ruling class--but I'm not fully convinced that what Alderman Munoz did, in placing a call to request admission of his daughter to Whitney Young despite her grades, was wrong.

He is a parent. And parents call schools and ask for reconsideration all the time, particularly in cases where they want to keep siblings together (and I imagine for a dad, keeping his young daughter with her older brothers would be a particularly strong motivator). Should he not do what any other parent would do simply because he is an alderman?

Perhaps that is something you sacrifice when you enter public service. But if you put, "sacrificing basic parental prerogatives" on the list of things you sacrifice when you become a public servant, I'm not sure you'll ever get any quality public servants.

The background:

Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) acknowledged Wednesday that his daughter was admitted to Whitney Young Magnet High School for the upcoming school year after he called the principal to ask that his daughter be allowed to follow in her brother's footsteps.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of the follow-up was this bit of candid talk from the Mayor, who apparently has abandoned any pretension that the City Council's statutory powers are anything but a formality:

"As a parent, he is speaking for not only his family, but his own constitutents," Daley said. "They don't have to accept the child. They can refuse the child because [aldermen] have no power over the Board of Education. They don't fund them. They don't review their budgets or anything else."

The City Council does approve the Board of Education's property-tax levy and ratifies the mayor's appointment of school board members.

[Emphasis added]

I'm ambivalent. What do you think?

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Don / August 13, 2009 2:51 PM

Absolutely he's wrong, both as a public servant and father. If the student's grades weren't good enough to be accepted to the school they're going to be in over their head with school work and chances are they'll fall further and further behind.

Levois / August 13, 2009 3:51 PM

Well I'm neither a public servant nor am I a parent. I'm not sure he was wrong as a father, but he's got the public servant whammy going for him. That's not to say that his daughter should or shouldn't be admitted to Whitney Young, however, the fact that he made a phone call to the school's principal doesn't make this story look good. In his capacity as an Alderman I would say he was wrong.

Rachael / August 14, 2009 12:59 AM

Your argument about keeping the siblings together is invalid. The brother already graduated. The provision for siblings is only valid if both students would be attending the school at the same time.

An Alderman calling on behalf of anyone who is unqualified, daughter or not, is clout, 100% Chicago-style.

My question is, why aren't the two CPS high schools (in Munoz's district) good enough for his low-scoring daughter or the unqualified children of his campaign donors.

Dan / August 14, 2009 9:49 AM

Stories like this one, I believe, are the fallout from Chicago's newfound focus on and attention to good governance. If the same set of circumstances had occurred in, say, Boise, Idaho, I'm inclined to think that it would not be newsworthy, or at least as newsworthy.

Is it the proverbial tempest in a teapot? Probably. But in this town, I'm happy to see the media, bloggers, and goo-goos overexpose these types of issues.

Veronica / August 15, 2009 12:53 PM

Rachael's point is one that needs to be further discussed in Chicago.

As the mom of an only child, I don't have these issues with keeping my kids in one school. But honestly why are we letting a school system continue to separate siblings and keep parents running around like crazy?

Why is my neighborhood school overcrowded? Why is a magnet school across the street unavailable to my daughter? Why can't gifted programs be included neighborhood schools?

Yes, I know there is a desegregation order still on CPS, but it suits those in power all too well to keep communities fractured by having 10 kids on a block go to 10 different schools.

As for Munoz - once you are an elected official everything you do is up for scrutiny, especially in Chicago. So that's the breaks.

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