Daley speaks to Columbia journalism students

By Patrick Smith

Mayor Richard M. Daley said he believed all sports, music and arts programs should be taken out of the school system and be converted to separate nonprofit after school programs, in an impromptu press conference with Columbia journalism students from Marla Donato’s Reporting and Writing II class. Topics ranged from Fenger High School and health care reform, to the wars in the Middle East and privatization of city services.

“Music programs should be after school, all of that should be after school,” Daley said in a small room adjacent to the City Council chambers. “We should take all of that out of the school system. It should all be after school or on Saturdays.”

Daley stressed these “are not good days” for public schools, and in times of financial crisis, a greater emphasis needs to be placed on the core curriculum.

“If [students] can’t read or write, they’re not going to do too well,” Daley said.

Daley also said the current financial crisis was “not a recession” but “a total realignment of America.” He blamed a good deal of the country’s funding woes on the two wars in which the United States is involved.

“We are a global power, we’re competing against China,” Daley said. “They don’t go to war; we’re spending more money on war, on 10 years of war. If they took half of the money from war, we wouldn’t be talking about a lot of these issues, but the federal government wants to go to war. Our century started with 10 years of war, that’s not a good sign for your century.”

Daley also criticized Gov. Pat Quinn when he said the state knew about its financial troubles last year and did nothing.

“You cannot keep borrowing money,” he said.

The mayor reiterated his position that nothing was off the table in terms of privatization of Chicago’s assets and services, saying private companies are more efficient because they know more about turning a profit than municipalities.

The mayor also seemed to take aim at President Barack Obama’s attempts to reform health care.

“The government doesn’t know nothing about health care,” Daley said.