A Laptop in Every Pot: Gery Chico's Promises to Chicago Public Schools By Carol Felsenthal At a news conference Tuesday, mayoral candidate Gery Chico offered so much good stuff to students and their parents that its hard to imagine why any voter with a child, grandchild, niece, or nephew in the Chicago public schools wouldnt vote for him. Heres some of what Chico is offering: Laptops for all School days extended by two hoursa boon to working parents School year extended by 25 days Full-day kindergarten Preschool for all three- and four-year-olds I asked him on Thursday how he plans to pay for all this. The first place I would look is in the textbook budget that we have today, which is tens of millions of dollars, Chico said. Sleek laptops would replace the universally despised tomes. Though he held up an Apple MacBookPro at the news conference, he said the computers he plans to offerfirst to high school students, next to first- through eighth-graderscould be Apples, Dells, or another brand. By the end of his first term, every student would have a state-of-the-art laptop to bring to class and to take home. If I can do it sooner, Ill do it sooner. Chico said he hopes that those nice people at Apple, who renovated the dingy North and Clybourn stop on the Red Line abutting the new Apple store, might want to kick in some money. This would be the largest bulk purchase of hardware maybe in the history of education, and so youre darn right we would have direct conversations with manufacturers. Asked if he has heard yet from the likes of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, he said, No, not yet, but they will [call]. His second step to pay for his proposed items would be to cut the central office staff by a third. In the HR department when I was there [as board president from 1995-2001], it was about 90 people. Today its about 170 to 180, with fewer employees to manage. Chico told me that the feedbackparticularly to the laptop part of his planhas been ecstatic. I walk down the street, and strangers shout, Chico, great idea on the laptops. I asked him about the student who gets jumped walking home with his computer, or the kid whose home life is so unstable that the laptop disappears in a drug deal. I have more faith than thatin our parents and our kids. Youre going to have a certain percentage of loss, but that doesnt mean we dont do the program. We have to aspire to be better. Has anyone accused you of offering a bribe? I asked. A laptop for a vote? Im not trying to pander to anybody, Chico said. Im trying to make schools in this city the best in the country, and youre not going to get there by namby-pamby, band-aid approaches. Chicos opinions about the bloated bureaucracy at CPS were a surprise to Mayor Daley, who said Thursday: He never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever mentioned that to me. Asked if he had read Chicos plan to revamp the schools, Daley snapped, I have better things to do. The mayors response was quite a turn from what he said about Chico in a September interview just after announcing his retirement. He had called Chico a wonderful public servant who was closer to [him] than anyone else. Later on Thursday, Chico called another press conference and credited Daley for doing a tremendous job for Chicago. But the candidate held his ground: This isnt about Mayor Daley or any one person. I stand on my own two feet. If it ruffles feathers, what am I going to do about it? A Laptop in Every Pot: Gery Chico's Promises to Chicago Public Schools - Felsenthal Files - November 2010 ------------------------------------------------- Only the most corrupt of politicians would tangle a free laptop in front of the parents of some of the dumbest students in America. I guess Chico feels he can grease his way into the Office of Mayor of Chicago with this stunt. And look at the extra 2 hours of free baby sitting he is giving the parents of those bandit babies from south of the border. What next: Small arms and explosives training for the invading third world students under the Dream Act?