- First the father, Richard J. (mayor from April 20, 1955
- December 20, 1976), now the son. To Chicagoans - "Hizzhonor,"
and for some - "Hizzhonor Da Mare." Authors Adam Cohen and Elizabeth
Taylor called the elder an "American Pharaoh." For former Chicago
columnist, Mike Royko, he was "Boss" in his 1971 book by that
title. When he died on December 20, 1976, Royko wrote:
- "If ever a man reflected a city, it was Richard
J. Daley," for better or worse. He was "strong (and) hard-driving"
with Texas-sized ambitions, but also "arrogant, crude, conniving,
ruthless, suspicious, intolerant, raucous, hot-tempered, devious, big and
powerful." He was Chicago.
- Now the son - mayor since April 24, 1989. His official
- Now in his sixth mayoral term, "Richard M. Daley
has earned a national reputation for his innovative, community-based programs
(on) education, public safety, neighborhood development and other challenges
facing American cities." More on that below.
- On April 25, 2005. Time magazine called him "the
nation's top urban executive." A week earlier, it said:
- "He wields near-imperial power" (in) steer(ing)
the Windy City into a period of impressive stability, with declining unemployment
and splashy growth." Never mind that the facts belie the hyperbole.
More on that as well.
- Earlier, the Wall Street Journal praised him as "a
fix-it, problem-solving man" and most recently in a February 7 interview
as: "The President's Mayor....whose personality and history are inseparable
from Chicago('s) political culture....successful and enormously popular."
He hopes bringing the 2016 Olympics to Chicago will "showcase the
city (as a) gleaming tourist destination (and) At this stage in the process,
the city's bid is not just Chicago anymore. It's the United States of America."
Indeed, and like the nation, Chicago and Illinois reek with problems, corruption,
and are for sale to the highest bidders, business ones, of course.
- According to the Corporate Crime Reporter, Illinois ranks
sixth worst in the nation on corruption after Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky,
Alabama and Ohio. In the wake of the governor Blagojevich scandal, The
New York Times (on December 13) said Illinois has "a tradition (since
the 19th century) of corruption" (because) the state's unusually lax
(campaign finance) laws" allow it, and local citizens say it's just
the way it is.
- On February 3, Dick Simpson, Thomas Gradel, and Andris
Zimelis (below Simpson et al) from the University of Illinois Chicago's
Political Science Department published: "Curing Corruption in Illinois
- Anti-Corruption Report Number 1."
- They call it "an unfortunate aspect of Illinois
(and Chicago) politics for a century and a half," in citing one example
after another - like former secretary of state Paul Powell's $800,000 stash
found in shoe boxes when he died, 13 judges caught for fixing court cases,
and a state auditor's embezzlement of over $1.5 million to buy two planes,
four cars, and two homes.
- Since 1972, three governors (besides Blagojevich), state
legislators, two congressmen, 19 Cook County judges, 30 aldermen, and many
others were convicted of corruption. In all since 1970, around 1000 public
officials and businessmen were caught and convicted.
- It's a tradition as far back as the 1860s, and mainly
in Chicago where its large immigrant population helped politicians gain
power. Needing housing and work, they turned public office into a bizaar.
It's called patronage, and in return, politicos got support. Businessmen
as well with bribes and payoffs for lucrative contracts, free from "troublesome
- Former Chicago alderman Paddy Bauler said it best: "Chicago
ain't ready for reform," and he was right. Richard J. Daley modernized
machine politics, and while mayor, many of his subordinates were jailed.
Under Richard M., the machine "simply adjusted to draw its power from
interest groups, corporations, unions, and the global economy instead of
ethnic communities." Everything changes, yet stays the same.
- The 2004 - 05 Hired Truck Program involved private trucks
for city work, but was phased out after a Chicago Sun-Times investigation
uncovered companies being paid for little or no work and having mob and
city officials' ties. Daley's patronage chief Robert Sorich was involved.
He was tried, convicted and sentenced to 46 months in prison with US District
Court Judge David Coar saying he ran a corruption operation "with
a capital C."
- Simpson et al calls Chicago "a one-party system
where Democrats control the city" but govern like Republicans. They
also explained that while many Daley aides were convicted of corruption,
"neither father or son" was ever indicted. Yet, "corruption
continues unabated in city, county, suburban, and state" politics.
Paddy Bauler was right, and it's no different today. Here's more:
- -- the FBI's Operation Safebet investigation into political
corruption and organized crime's control of prostitution throughout metropolitan
Chicago snared over 75 individuals;
- -- Operation Gambat targeted First Ward connections to
organized crime with 24 individuals convicted or pleading guilty;
- -- Operation Incubator on City Hall corruption involved
bribes to win city contracts for collecting unpaid parking tickets and
water bills; convicted were four aldermen, a former state senator, a deputy
water commissioner, and an aide to former Mayor Harold Washington;
- -- Operation Greylord into Chicago's court system netted
87 court personnel and attorney convictions and guilty pleas, including
- -- Operation Haunted Hall about City Hall ghost payrolls
yielded 38 indictments and 35 convictions, including four aldermen, a Cook
County treasurer, and a state senator;
- -- Operation Silver Shovel probed city government and
netted 18 convictions and guilty pleas from public employees and six aldermen;
- -- Operation Board Games into public corruption of insider
deals, peddling, and kickbacks involving state government boards; and
- -- much more systemic corruption for decades, including
under both Daleys.
- Simpson et al explained while corruption permeates Illinois,
"the most notorious and persistent (kinds are in) Chicago('s) City
Council." The guilty aldermen range from "bumblers (to) the most
brilliant (and powerful) politicians" like Tom Keane and Richard J.
Daley's floor leader, "Fast Eddie" Vrdolyak.
- In the past 35 years, 30 alderman were indicted and convicted
of bribery, extortion, embezzlement, conspiracy, mail fraud, and income
tax evasion - three Republicans and 26 Democrats. Three others were indicted.
Two died before going to trial, and the other was too sick to proceed.
Several others weren't indicted but resigned after media investigations.
- "In most cases, the Chicago political machine taught
the crooked aldermen the fine art of graft." They learned from the
grassroots up. "They saw political officials amass power and get rich
over time by playing the game, keeping quiet, and delivering votes and
campaign funds for the party." Locally, heads only rolled if exposed
in the media. "The Cook County States Attorney or Illinois Attorney
General almost never investigated or prosecuted political corruption."
The task fell to federal attorneys, postal inspectors, FBI, and IRS agents.
- The convicted are a who's who in Chicago and state politics,
and the game is as old as the system - "Pay-to-Play" and "quid
pro quo" with the latter very hard to prove, but it made millionaires
out of the players.
- These crimes persisted for decades, so it's clear Chicago
and Illinois house "a thriving culture of corruption." Fixing
something this embedded will take decades of committed change, no simple
task after a century and a half of plundering public coffers for personal
- Simpson et al put it this way:
- "Corruption is not funny (or) free. It costs taxpayers
more than $300 million a year. (What's called) 'The Chicago Way' has also
undermined the sense of political efficacy in voters. Why apply for a city
or state job if you know only patronage employees or politicians' relatives
will be hired anyway? Why report corrupt officials, if you know they won't
be punished (unless the Feds do it), and they may turn the powers of government
- Voters become apathetic because they know the "fix
is in." After a tradition of corruption, it's time "to become
the land of Lincoln rather than the land of "Where's Mine."
- Richard M. Daley's Machine
- Simpson and four assocates (Ola Adeoye, Daniel Bliss,
Kevin Navratil, and Rebecca Raines) wrote earlier about "The New Daley
Machine: 1989 - 2004" and compared it to the old one under his father
- from 1955 - 1976.
- Elder Daley's was characterized by "patronage, slate-making,
and alliances" to Chicago's business community. Richard M.'s new version
continues some of the old ways, "but patronage precinct captains are
supplemented by candidate-based, synthetic campaigns using large sums of
money from the global economy to purchase professional political consultants,
public opinion polls, paid television ads, and direct mail."
- In government, it's enforced by a "rubber stamp
city council and public policies that benefit the new global economy more
than the older developer" one. From 1955 to the present, two Daleys,
father and son, have run Chicago for over 40 years and show no sign of
stepping down with Richard M. a still youthful 66 and likely to run for
a seventh term in February 2011.
- He solidified power with strong business and trade union
backing, especially from construction, real estate, finance, law, lobbying,
and tourism related interests. His "regime is composed of traditional
(rubber stamp city council backing along with) developers, city contractors,
construction unions, real estate firms (plus) major contributors from the
new global (economy), including banks, lawyers, and international manufacturing
- Combined, it's less democracy and more centralized power
under the new "Chicago Machine." In city council votes, mayoral
support runs about 90%. In elections, it's mainly from Whites and Latinos
who are rewarded for their backing.
- An old-fashioned political machine runs city precincts
and the government, but private business instituted important changes.
One is "turning over major public decisions either entirely to the
private sector (with minimal government supervision) or to quasi-independent
governmental agencies appointed by the mayor and governor."
- In the 1990s, Chicago, like other cities, renovated a
corporate-centered downtown and expanded its service economy. It became
"the Midwest capital of the global economy," for example in tourism
and conventions with millions of annual visitors and growing annual tax
revenues as a result. "Most tourist, convention, and major development
decisions are made behind closed doors with little public input" and
considerable private sector influence. On the one hand, business greatly
benefits at the discretion of an imperial mayor heading a powerful Chicago
- It's active in elections where it crushes a "poorly
organized opposition. In the 2003 aldermanic elections, all but five (of
50) incumbents were re-elected, most by landslide totals, and those that
lost (got) tepid machine support in the face of strong community opposition."
At the same time, ward committeemen won in "mostly uncontested romps."
- With less power than his father, Richard M. still runs
Chicago unchallenged. Democrats dominate city politics. The last Republican
mayor ("Big Bill" Thompson) left office in 1931. The Great Depression
ended their rule when Anton Cermak took over, built a strong constituency
among African Americans, and consigned Republicans to small pockets on
the city's far northwest side and suburban growth post-war.
- As for regaining power in Chicago, they face "the
prospect of a long wait," according to one observer. Democrats are
well entrenched, and business loves them. Why not, they're more Republican
than Republicans and voters hardly notice. They should as topics below
- Growing Poverty in Chicago
- Last year, the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and
Human Rights (HA) prepared a "2008 Report on Illinois Poverty: Chicago
Area Snapshot." It quotes federal poverty monetary threshold guidelines
(FPL). In each case, they're woefully inadequate, given the city's true
cost of living. FPLs are:
- -- $10,400 for a single person;
- -- $14,400 for a family of two;
- -- $17,600 for three;
- -- $21,200 for four; and
- -- $24,800 for five.
- From 1980 - 2008, greater Chicago experienced a 114.5%
increase in poverty. Up to last year, it affected 400,000 suburban residents
and over 570,000 Chicagoans or 21.2% of the population. Given the global
economic crisis and massive monthly job losses, these numbers are rising
dramatically at a time basic necessities like food, housing, health care,
energy costs, and more are less affordable for many.
- Like most major cities, Chicago is greatly impacted.
HA reports 977,320 Chicagoans as low income poor and 1.2 million "at
risk of experiencing poverty," meaning they struggle daily to meet
basic needs and are dangerously close to the edge. One negative event (like
job loss) alone can push them over.
- Latinos and especially blacks are far more impoverished
than whites. Women are more affected than men. So are children, the disabled,
one wage-earner households, and anyone "without education past high
school." One-fourth of Chicagoans have no health insurance. Being
employed is no guarantee against poverty. Over 56,000 full-time workers
are impoverished and nearly 210,000 part-time ones. From 2000 - 2006 alone,
when adjusted for inflation, Chicagoans' median annual household income
declined by $3515 besides greater erosion since the 1970s. The changing
job market and lost benefits are to blame, and conditions keep worsening
with one-third of all northeastern Illinois jobs classified as "low-wage
- Affordable housing is shrinking, and the percent of renters
paying over half their income for shelter rose substantially from 2000
- 2006 to around 30% of the population, leaving fewer resources for other
needs. Critically important is that "the vast majority" of people
needing help get none. Since 2000, under the 1996 Welfare Reform Act,
welfare rolls dropped 77%, meaning tens of thousands of Chicagoans are
on their own and can't make it. Less housing aid is also provided because
vouchers from nine of the 12 Public Housing Authorities aren't available.
For many, the situation is critical.
- The result is extreme poverty is rising. It reached almost
10% in 2006 and now is much higher given the economic crisis. In January,
Feeding America (FA) reported that Obama's economic stimulus plan provides
nothing for the hungry when growing numbers are needy and desperate.
- Chicago and other city food banks report a 30% demand
increase for their services. Many are newly unemployed, currently don't
qualify for food stamps, or are waiting for benefits to be approved. FA's
president, Vicki Escarra, said "Americans are going hungry, we're
in crisis," and government help isn't forthcoming. "Food banks
are on the front lines feeding people," so they're typically an early
warning sign of what's to come. In December, 70% of them couldn't meet
community needs, and that percentage is rising as resources can't match
- In a December report, Chicago Community Trust reported
that local conditions are far worse than a year earlier:
- -- 6000 Chicagoans face homelessness each month;
- -- 350,000 Cook County residents depend on food pantries
to survive; tens of thousands more monthly are joining them; 625,000 rely
on food stamps;
- -- 440,000 Illinois workers are unemployed and more layoffs
are announced daily; and
- -- metropolitan area home foreclosures doubled from autumn
2007 to autumn 2008.
- The Decline of Public Housing in Chicago
- Last July, the Chicago Tribune ran a lengthy report on
"Public housing limbo" in which it asked "What went wrong
with Chicago's grand experiment." Thousands of families were displaced
despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent after the Daley administration
let private developers shape public housing's future for the city's poor
under the Chicago Housing Authority's (CHA) Plan for Transformation.
- CHA calls it "a blueprint for positive change (to)
improve the appearance, quality and culture of (Chicago's) public housing."
Tribune reporters Jason Grotto, Laurie Cohen and Sara Olkon called it a
"virtual giveaway of public land" so real estate developers could
displace poor residents and gentrify neighborhoods for profit. In the past
decade, Chicago saw a surge in upscale development with many working-class
and poor neighborhoods transformed for the well-off.
- In the 1960s, sociologist Ruth Glass coined the term
"gentrification" to describe the invasion of middle and upper
income households into areas no longer affordable for the poor. Upscale
condos replaced low-cost housing with people displaced to what Marquitta
Campbell discovered - substandard construction, leaky ceilings, mold, awful
odors, and much more making new quarters worse than the old ones.
- Also low-cost housing proceeded slowly and got bogged
down by bureaucracy, politics, and complex financing made all the worse
by today's crisis. With a glut of unsold upscale properties, developers
won't build low-profit ones for the poor.
- The result is thousands of displaced Chicagoans have
waited years for new public housing, and since 2001 no new applicants have
been accepted. The trend goes far beyond Chicago in the wake of the Bush
administration prodding dozens of cities to adopt similar plans to dump
their poor, shift them to shoddy new buildings, and concentrate on gentrifying
neighborhoods for profit.
- Recently, many projects stalled as the economy faltered,
but it hit Chicago hardest. Under ambitious Daley plans, it undertook the
nation's largest public housing redevelopment with the idea of reshaping
the city and enriching builders.
- Stateway Gardens was typical. It was once some of the
nation's worst public housing. It's demolition made it prime real estate
for Allison Davis, a developer with close Daley ties. His Park Boulevard
project is close to US Cellular Field, home of the White Sox, but it's
in trouble. Construction bogged down and one development team member went
- At Plan for Transformation's launching, Daley vowed to
replace Chicago public housing eyesores with 25,000 new units for the poor.
But housing advocates worried that displacing thousands quickly spelled
trouble, and so it has. Horizontal ghettos replaced vertical ones, made
up mainly of impoverished black families.
- Daley promised to "rebuild lives." Meanwhile,
demolition proceeded, new construction slowed, and stringent employment
rules and background checks prevented most residents from returning to
refurbished neighborhoods. Most took federal housing vouchers, were told
they'd be back in five years, were forced to move numerous times since
the plan started, and are no closer now to getting new housing than before.
- Stateway Gardens was supposed to be a bustling neighborhood
with new buildings, businesses, and a renaissance for Chicago's South Side.
Instead, most of the 33-acre site is vacant with dirt and brick pallets
astride unfinished sidewalks and homes.
- The Daley administration approved the plan to mix public
housing with for-sale condos in the same buildings. It required selling
market-rate homes first. Under financing terms, developers can't build
affordable housing until it's pre-sold half its upper-scale units. When
housing peaked and imploded, so did construction for the poor.
- One development team promised to build 439 public housing
units by September 2008. The number so far is 53 and no new development
is planned. For its part, Chicago's CHA offered free land and paid to clean
up property and tear down old high-rises. The city also spent millions
for new roads, water pipes and sewers.
- If housing stayed healthy, developers stood to profit
handsomely with all kinds of sweeteners at public and former residents'
expense. They donate heavily to the Machine and are well compensated in
return. As for the poor, Francine Washington summed it up saying: "The
only thing wrong with Park Boulevard is the management." City government
as well the way it always is.
- Chicago: "The National Capital of Police Repression"
- That's how Frank Donner characterized Chicago in his
1990 book "Protectors of Privilege." As an ACLU attorney, he
explained how city police and US intelligence agencies targeted alleged
internal subversion, and while it operated "was the outstanding example
of its kind in the United States (in terms of) size, number, and range
of targets or operational scope and diversity."
- He referred to "wide-open, no-holds-barred style
surveillance" unmatched anywhere in the country. For years, "Chicago-style
official vigilantism (waged) guerrilla warfare against substantial sectors
of the city's population." He called it "institutionalized aggression,
unique in the annals of any American city. Its (methods) were flamboyantly
illegal and in many instances criminal."
- Law enforcement employed intimidation, physical confrontation,
and outright abuse. That was then. What about now. CNN reported that between
2002 - 2004 alone, "more than 10,000 complaints - many involving brutality
and assault - were filed against Chicago police officers." Yet only
18 of them resulted in disciplinary action, according to attorney Craig
Futterman who uncovered the data while researching a client's claim.
- Diane Bond sued the city and police on charges physical
and sexual assault. The administration settled for $150,000, admitted no
wrongdoing, reprimanded no officers, two were later promoted, and this
case is typical of many.
- For years, community activists accused the Department's
Office of Professional Standards (its investigative unit) of indifference
and poor oversight. The Daley administration did nothing to change things.
- On November 15, 2007, The New York Times headlined:
"Chicago Police Cases Exceed Average." Writer Susan Saulny explained
that city police "are the subject of more brutality complaints per
officer than the national average, and the Police Department is far less
likely to pursue" them, according to a University of Chicago report
titled "The Chicago Police Department's Broken System."
- It's detailed and damning in citing extensive abuse,
a broken disciplinary and supervisory system, and a practice of impunity.
Under the Daley administration (much like others that preceded him), cops
can get away with anything and they do.
- Listed were police brutality, illegal searches, false
arrests, racial targeting, sexual abuse, shoddy investigations, a culture
of silence, and apartheid justice. The data is conclusive. It:
- -- "demonstrates the existence of deficient disciplinary
and supervisory policies;
- -- provides powerful evidence of deliberate indifference
- the affirmative efforts that policymakers must make not to know about
individual and group patterns of abuse and the egregious harm caused by
- -- supports several theories of causation, including
demonstrating that minimally effective practices would have identified
and stopped (these things instead of) encourag(ing them through a culture
of indifference, silence, and impunity)."
- The report called the Chicago Police a "regime of
not knowing," and accomplishing that requires considerable effort.
"It (takes) a deep commitment to the machinery of denial, including
denying incidents of brutality, turning a blind eye to patterns of abuse,
refusing to look at data that is just a key stroke or two away, and passively
encouraging a culture of silence in the face of abuse perpetrated by officers."
- As expected, those most affected are blacks, Latinos,
and the city's poor and disadvantaged. The report asks: "Does a different
Constitution apply in inner city minority (and poor) communities?....How
great is the loss of life, liberty, and property? The loss of hope and
opportunity? The loss of family? Loss of justice? Loss of faith in our
political institutions?" How important is it that Richard Daley is
as silent as the police?
- Why is he letting Chicago police equip 500 rank-and-file
officers with military assault weapons, according to a March 25 Chicago
Public Radio report? In question is the purchase of 500 M-4 semi-automatic
rifles powerful enough to penetrate walls and cars, both sides of a military
helmet at 600 meters, and travel up to two miles, meaning stray bullets
may kill anyone and likely will, especially in poor neighborhoods where
they'll be used.
- Destroying Public Education in Chicago
- Under Richard Daley, Chicago took the lead in destroying
public education nationally through privatization schemes for profit. Two
previous articles by this writer covered them. Below is material from them.
- As Chicago Public Schools (CPS) "CEO" before
becoming Obama's Education Secretary, Arne Duncan
- led Chicago's Renaissance 2010 Turnaround strategy for
100 new "high-performing" elementary and high schools in the
city by that date. Under five year contracts, they'll "be held accountable....to
create innovative learning environments" under one of three "governance
- -- charter schools under the 1996 Illinois Charter Schools
Law; they're called "public schools of choice, selected by students
and parents....to take responsible risks and create new, innovative and
more flexible ways of educating children within the public school system;"
in 1997, the Illinois General Assembly approved 60 state charter schools;
Chicago was authorized 30, the suburbs 15 more, and 15 others downstate.
The city bent the rules, initially operated about 53 charter "campuses,"
and now has nearly 100.
- Charter schools aren't magnet ones that require students
in some cases to have special skills or pass admissions tests. However,
they have specific organizing themes and educational philosophies and may
target certain learning problems, development needs, or educational possibilities.
In all states, they're legislatively authorized; near-autonomous in their
operations; free to choose their students and exclude unwanted ones; and
up to now are quasi-public with no religious affiliation. Administration
and corporate schemes assure they won't stay that way because that's the
sinister plan. Duncan was a key part of it, and so is his successor.
- George Bush praised these schools in April 2007 when
he declared April 29 through May 5 National Charter Schools Week. He said
they provide more "choice," are a "valuable educational
alternative," and he thanked "educational entrepreneurs for supporting"
these schools around the country.
- Here's what the president praised. Lisa Delpit is executive
director of the Center for Urban Education & Innovation. In her capacity,
she studies charter school performance and cited evidence from a 2005 Department
of Education report. Her conclusion:
- "charter schools....are less likely than public
schools to meet state education goals." Case study examples in five
states showed they underperform, and are "less likely than traditional
public (ones) to employ teachers meeting state certification standards."
- Other underperformance evidence came from an unexpected
source - an October 1994 Money magazine report on 70 public and private
schools. It concluded that "students who attend the best public schools
outperform most private school students, that the best public schools offer
a more challenging curriculum than most private schools, and that the private
school advantage in test scores is due to their selective admission policies."
- Clearly a failing grade on what's spreading nationally
en route to total privatization and the triumph of the market over educating
the nation's youths.
- In 1991, Minnesota passed the first charter school law.
California followed in 1992, and it's been off to the races since. By 1995,
19 states had them, and in 2007 there were over 4000 charter schools in
40 states and the District of Columbia with more than one million students
in them and growing.
- Chicago's two other "governance structures"
- -- contract (privatized) schools run by "independent
nonprofit organizations;" they operate under a Performance Agreement
between the "organization" and Board of Education; and
- -- performance schools under Chicago Public Schools
(CPS) management "with freedom and flexibility on many district initiatives
and policies;" unmentioned is Delay's close ties to the Bush and Obama
administrations and their preference for marketplace education; the idea
isn't new, but it accelerated rapidly in recent years.
- Another part of the scheme is also in play, in Chicago
and throughout the country. Inner city schools are being closed. Remaining
ones are neglected and decrepit. Classroom sizes are increasing, and children
and parents are being sacrificed on the alter of marketplace triumphalism.
- Consider recent events under Daley. Last February 27,
the city's Board of Education unanimously and without discussion voted
to close, relocate or otherwise target 19 public schools, fire teachers,
and leave students in the cold. Thousands of parents protested, were ignored
and denied access to the Board of Ed meeting where the decision came down
pro forma and quick. It wasn't the first time and won't be the last. For
years under the current mayor, Chicago closed or privatized more schools
than anywhere else in the country, and the trend is accelerating. Since
July 2001, 59 elementary and secondary schools were closed or replaced
with charter or contract ones.
- The trend continues in Chicago and across the country
to "reform" education nationally, hand it to business profiteers,
destroy teacher unions, end public education, commodify it, educate the
well-off, cheat underprivileged kids, consign them to low-wage, no benefit
service jobs, and end the American dream for millions.
- Arne Duncan is doing it as Obama's Education Secretary
with schemes like the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) that became
law on January 8, 2002. It succeeded the 1994 Goals 2000: Educate America
Act that set eight outcomes-based goals for the year 2000 but failed on
all counts to meet them. Goals 2000, in turn, goes back to the 1965 Elementary
and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and specifically its Title I provisions
for funding schools and districts with a high percentage of low-income
- NCLB is outrageous, and Duncan administered the worst
of it in Chicago. It's long on testing, school choice, and market-based
"reforms" but short on real achievement. It's built around rote
learning, standardized tests, requiring teachers to "teach to the
test," assessing results by Average Yearly Progress (AYP) scores,
and punishing failure harshly - firing teachers and principals, closing
schools and transforming them from public to charter or for-profit ones.
- Critics denounce NCLB as "an endless regimen of
test-preparation drills" for poor children. Others call it underfunded
and a thinly veiled scheme to privatize education and transfer its costs
and responsibilities from Washington to individuals and impoverished school
districts. Mostly, it reflects current era thinking that anything government
does business does better, so let it. And Democrats (like Obama, Duncan
and his successor) are as supportive as Republicans.
- So far, NCLB renewal bills are stalled in both Houses,
election year politics intervened, and final resolution will be for the
new administration and 111th Congress to decide. For critics, that's positive
because the law failed to deliver as promised. Its sponsors claimed it
would close the achievement gap between inner city and rural schools and
more affluent suburban ones. It's real aim, however, is to commodify education,
end government responsibility for it, and make it another business profit
- Obama promised to fix "the broken promises of"
NCLB. Whatever's done will affect millions of students already harmed with
little chance that the worst of this act will be changed. Nonetheless,
National Education Association (NEA) president, Dennis Van Roekel, is hopeful
that the new administration will be "the beginning of a promising
new period for public education in this country."
- Arne Duncan won't let it. He told Congress that NCLB
funding "should be doubled within five years, and that the law must
be amended to give schools the maximum amount of flexibility possible...."
Repealing the law, ending the funding and privatization schemes, and fostering
policies to educate all kids equally regardless of socioeconomic status
is what's needed. Obama and Arne Duncan won't let it. They've consigned
poor kids to the trash bin of no future.
- Below are some Duncan policy initiatives, now run by
new CPS "CEO," and former Chicago Transit Authority head Ron
- -- using the CPS's $5.5 billion budget for no-bid contracts
to cronies for all sorts of goods and services; Huberman now recommends
them to the seven-member board, and nearly always they're approved unanimously
with no discussion or debate;
- -- militarizing Chicago high schools (perhaps most in
the country) on the pretext of offering students "choice;" JROTC
programs were institutionalized, and high schools were established entirely
for military studies; poor minorities comprise the overwhelming majority
of affected students;
- -- while still in Chicago, Duncan litigated to be freed
from an early 1980s federal desegregation consent decree; he claimed he
did everything possible to comply even though city students are predominantly
black and over 90% black and Latino; Chicago has over 300 segregated black
schools plus 40 or more all-Latino ones;
- -- Duncan opposed and litigated against federal oversight
of special education programs; he violated the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA), ignored parents' wishes, the needs of the children,
and forced teachers to go along; and
- -- Chicago has nearly 100 quasi-private charter schools,
many of them run by for-profit companies; less than 10% of them are integrated;
the city is notorious for violating the education needs of minority students;
their schools are sub-standard and abysmal.
- Under "Renaissance 2010," 59 public schools
were closed, and 2009 plans call for shuttering at least another 22. In
its February issue, Substance News headlined: "End Ren 2010! echoes
across city....Chicago protests grow." Backing them against closure
and privatization is an alliance of parents, teachers, students, grandparents,
and community leaders. Even cold winter mornings and nights haven't kept
them off the streets - downtown outside, and inside, the Board of Education
headquarters. Their mission - save Chicago public education from a rapacious
scheme to privatize it.
- With no background or knowledge of education, it's Ron
Huberman's job to do it. As new CPS CEO, he's in charge of:
- -- gutting the city's public system in favor of privatization
schemes for profit;
- -- continuing the process of militarizing them;