Obama’s education secretary Duncan may have manipulated student enrollment in Chicago

Arne Duncan – when heading the Chicago public school system – may have placed students in the school of their parents choice after taking calls from powerful business owners and political elites, including congressmen and senators. This special “appeal” process was unknown to the general public.

What a fool and a hypocrite. He provides school choice options to some and shuts out the common folk. Choice for us … but not for you. Breaking news from Chicago, with a hat tip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.

What it comes down to is Duncan’s office should have never kept a list or lobbied in any way to help move the children of powerful parents – or for anyone else for that matter – into the school of their choice. There was a system in place and Duncan and his staff should have directed all calls to work within the system, period.

From Chicago Breaking News

Whispers have long swirled that some children get spots in the city’s premier schools based on whom their parents know. But a list maintained over several years in Duncan’s office and obtained by the Tribune lends further evidence to those charges. Duncan is now secretary of education under President Barack Obama.

The log is a compilation of politicians and influential business people who interceded on behalf of children during Duncan’s tenure. It includes 25 aldermen, Mayor Richard Daley’s office, House Speaker Michael Madigan, his daughter Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.

Non-connected parents, such as those who sought spots for their special-needs child or who were new to the city, also appear on the log. But the politically connected make up about three-quarters of those making requests in the documents obtained by the Tribune.

Often a sponsor’s request was rejected. Principals responded that a student’s scores were too low, or that the school was full. In other cases, the student hadn’t even taken the required admissions test, and therefore could not be considered, according to the documents.

It is true that “non-connected” requests came in and were rejected. It also seems true that more residents – not just powerful elites – were able to find out about the unique appeal process that may be best described as a unique lobbying group. It’s who you know.

The list was maintained by a top Duncan aide, David Pickens, currently chief of staff to the president of the Chicago Board of Education. Pickens said he created the log at Duncan’s behest to track the flood of calls pouring into district offices from parents, politicians and business leaders trying to navigate the system’s mysterious and maligned application process.

But Pickens acknowledged the list was kept confidential. The vast majority of parents who follow the system’s school application process never knew they could appeal to Duncan’s office for special consideration.

“We didn’t want to advertise what we were doing because we didn’t want a bunch of people calling,” Pickens said.

Pickens said that principals grew tired of getting calls from influential people seeking admission for a student, and that by centralizing it, he could serve as a firewall. After getting a request, he or another staffer would look up the child’s academic record. If the student met their standard, they would call the principal of the desired school.

This is simply another symptom of the disease. What do you expect will happen when the government is involved with education? It’s pure human nature for parent to pick up the phone and demand better treatment for their kids.

There is a way to stop those phone calls, simply get the government out of the business of educating our kids, return all of the tax dollars spent on education to the parents, and send the kid to the private school of their choice. This may be simplistic, but part of the “I’m going to have a kid” equation must be “can I afford to have a kid”?

These calls will continue as long as we have a public education system, and those calls will result in corruption and favoritism. It’s who you know don’t ya know?

1 reply
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Can you really call what the government is doing in our schools "educating"?  Substitute "homogenizing", "replacing achievement with mediocrity", or (God help us!) "introducing diversity", but "educating"?  No.  I see the products of public schools every day, and I can tell you that I am not overly impressed.  Reading, writing and arithmetic have bee replaced with diversity, moral relativity and feel good results.


    Don't you love how the Democrats axed (no, not asked a question in Obamaspeak) the highly successful and popular voucher system in Washington, D.C.?  All while the children of the elites would not be caught dead in one of those hideous schools?   Schools where the cost per student is the highest in the country, and the results are the poorest.  Coming to a town near you!


    Is is me, or does Obama's Chicago resemble the old Soviet Union, with some komerads being more equal than others?   Payoffs, kickbacks, strong arming, threats, control of the children, patronage and nepotism.



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