VALLAS FACTS: Resume padding and doubletalk about his 'teaching' experience and certification began in Illinois a long time ago... By the time he ran for Governor in 2002, Paul Vallas had been getting away with padding his resumé for a long long time

{Editor's Note: The following article was published originally at in March 2002 while Paul Vallas was running for the Democratic Party nomination for Governor of Illinois. As part of his campaign material, as reported then (and below), Vallas made claims about his education and educational experience that were not true, but rarely, then or until recently, were Vallas's claims checked out. At every point when Substance checked the Vallas claims against any record, we learned that they were lies, half-truths, or silly manipulations. George N. Schmidt, Editor].

Lies in Vallas vitae, By Sharon Schmidt

Why is Paul Vallas still lying about his teaching experience? On his campaign web site and in materials distributed to the press, Vallas claims he was an “Elementary School Teacher, 1976 – 1980. ”

A Substance investigation has revealed that Vallas did not teach elementary school for four years. The item on his “Biographical Summary” is flagrant resume padding. Neither Vallas nor his spokesperson, Matt Ryan, returned Substance’s phone calls that asked for Vallas’s current story regarding his “teaching experience” and a comment for this article.

Vallas has altered his version of what he was doing from 1976 to 1980 at least four different times. He has made the statements while under oath and to the press over the past six months regarding his alleged experience. At no time could he account for four years of “elementary school teaching.”

Despite his changing story, Vallas has kept the item alleging the experience on his gubernatorial campaign vitae, which was cited as fact in a Chicago Tribune editorial on March 3.

“Teaching experience” ignored under oath

On September 20, in a deposition taken by Substance’s lawyers (as part of the pending case “Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees v. Substance and Schmidt”), Vallas answered questions about his work and education history. In that sworn testimony, Vallas did not claim any teaching experience as part of his background.

“From my college years, from about ’76 to ’79, I worked in my father’s business … a restaurant business,” Vallas said. Two weeks later, when questioned by this reporter about those years, Vallas claimed that he had taught elementary school for approximately two years. At a press conference on October 3 at the Allegro Hotel in Chicago, Vallas said that he taught at “a public school” in Hardin, Montana “for about a year,” and at Koreous, a Greek Orthodox elementary school in Palos Heights, Illinois “for about a year.”

However, Vallas changed his story after Substance reported his statements and an initial investigation.

The November Substance reported that Vallas was not employed in Hardin nor at any other district in Montana, according to the Hardin district employee records and the Montana Teachers Retirement System records. Since Substance’s report appeared, Vallas modified his story. He now claims that he was a student teacher in Montana. Student teachers are not paid employees and are not in state's pension plans.

Story changes after investigation published

On January 18, Substance reporter Lotty Blumenthal questioned Vallas about his teaching background, after he spoke at the "Educators in Polonia" meeting at the White Eagle restaurant.

“First of all, I started my teaching in Hardin, Montana,” Vallas said. “Oh, you’re not going to ask me the years, I don’t remember, you know. I went up there and did my student teaching and I stayed for the rest of the year.”

Vallas also told Substance that he had taught at Koreous, but he did not give any specifics of when he taught, what grade he taught or the length of his employment.

Apparently, Vallas also told the Sun-Times that he was a student teacher in Montana. It reported on February 18 that, in order to overcome a stuttering problem, Vallas “packed his bags for Montana and spent 10 weeks student-teaching on an Indian reservation.”

The Sun-Times did not report on Vallas’ additional alleged four years of elementary school teaching.

An outrageous lie

Whether any of Vallas’s statements over the past six months regarding his work experience are true — two years of teaching, one year plus student teaching, just student teaching, or no teaching at all — the item “Elementary School Teacher 1976 –1980” on his biographical summary remains an outrageous lie.

According to Father Byron Papanikolau of Koreous, Vallas taught at the school during the 1977-78 school year. Papanikolau also said that Vallas had been a student at the school.

In his attempt to explain his claim of “Elementary School Teacher 1976 –1980” Vallas had told Substance that in addition to his year at Koreous and his experience in Hardin, he had taught on the college level.

“I taught at a number of community colleges and I also taught at Western Illinois University,” Vallas said at the October 3 press conference. “I had a teaching internship.” On January 18, Vallas said that he taught at “Spoon River”, and “Lincolnland” community colleges. However, allegedly teaching a few college courses is very different from being employed for another three years as a full time elementary school, as his biographical summary states.

Other inconsistencies

At the October 3 (2001) press conference, Substance asked Vallas if he was certified to teach. “I sure am,” he said. “Well, am I certified now? I was certified then. But, yes, I had a teacher certification. Incidentally, you did not have to take an exam for teacher certification in those days.”

According to both the Illinois State Board of Education and the Montana State Board of Education, an exam was required for teacher certification in 1976. Other parts of the Vallas academic record also deserve more scrutiny now that the man is asking Illinois voters to select him partly on the basis of his claims of “independence” and honesty.

One news report had Vallas authoring a paper more than 700 pages long for part of his Master’s program that he allegedly completed.


Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

2 + 2 =