Rahm Emanuel is considering a voucher program for Chicago.

This may–or may not–seem surprising but when I read this, I remembered the only time I met Rahm Emanuel. I was invited to the White House in 2010 to meet with President Obama’s Domestic Policy Advisor, Melody Barnes, his education advisor, Roberto Rodriguez, and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. They wanted to get my reaction to the Common Core standards and their $1 billion proposal for merit pay. I was totally opposed to merit pay because, I told them, it had failed repeatedly for a century. As to the Common Core standards, I suggested that they offer grants to three or five states to try it before imposing it on the entire nation. Find out if it helps narrow the achievement gap or widens it. Learn how it works. They were not interested in my suggestions because they wanted the Common Core in place before the 2012 elections.

Rahm Emanuel was rude. He said he had one question for me: Why do Catholic schools perform better than public schools and should we do anything to help them? I tried to explain the differences between private schools and public schools to him. Whatever I said to him didn’t interest him, and he left the meeting early, letting me know that he had better things to do with his time.

That meeting came back to me when I read that he was open to the idea of vouchers. If nothing else happens in Chicago, Emanuel will go down in history as the only mayor in the United States to close 50 public schools in a single day. One thing is certain about Rahm Emanuel: He has no interest in improving public schools and no hesitation closing them and replacing them with private alternatives.

A recently released cache of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s private emails reveals he had been open to discussing a controversial voucher-like program that could divert millions of taxpayer dollars to private schools.

The release of an April email exchange with Cardinal Blase Cupich about such a program being floated by the Trump administration comes as state lawmakers continue closed-door negotiations over how to fund public schools across the state. The impasse over school funding threatens the delivery of nearly all state education money weeks before the start of a new school year.

WBEZ has learned the discussions among lawmakers include the kind of tax credit scholarship program Cupich had emailed the mayor about this spring. The state-level proposal could divert up to $100 million in state tax revenue to special funds that would help families pay for private school tuition, or help send their children to a public schools outside their home districts.

When asked if the mayor would support an education tax credit program in Illinois, mayoral spokesman Adam Collins said Emanuel “has been clear publicly that his priority is the state’s education funding formula.”

In Cupich’s email exchange with Emanuel, the cardinal referenced U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ push to expand private school choice by creating a federal education tax credit program.

The Trump administration hasn’t released specific details, but the idea is to give tax credits to anyone donating to a fund that would allow eligible students to attend a private school of their choosing. The same concept is now being discussed by Illinois lawmakers in the negotiations to overhaul public school funding across the state.