Chicago's Mayor Daley on Leadership and Education

"If you want to make a great city, you have to educate people," so goes the mantra of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley.

Daley explained that there are different definitions to global cities and great cities. Most global cities--urban areas with very diverse populations from around the world--tend to have a clear bifurcation between rich and poor, with very little in between. What happens is the middle class moves out of urban areas and settles elsewhere, and ingredients for good schools tend to follow. Chicago--a city built primarily by immigrants past and present--must have a strong middle class so everyone can thrive, live, and learn in an urban center. That, according to Daley, is a great city.

The mayor acknowledged that many of his peers around the world struggle with poverty and inequality in cities. Daley chides them: "[They are] talking about poverty and inequality. They should be talking about education!" He goes on to explain, "If I give a child a good education, I give them tools for life--to not be in poverty, to not feel unequal."

Mayor Daley is the first American mayor to take over a school system in 1995. Since then, schools have shown overall improvement; Chicago has set up the largest-scale language and exchange program in the United States; and it has produced our newest U.S. Secretary of Education in Arne Duncan.