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MEDIA WATCH: WBEZ decides anti-union Advance Illinois is best source for discussing the California Vergara decision

While Chicago is still learning about the now-infamous "Vergara Decision" by a federal judge in San Francisco, public radio in Chicago has decided that the most informed person to discuss teacher tenure in Chicago and Illinois is Robin Steans, who is head of the astroturf group called "Advance Illinois."

On June 16, 2009, millionaire heiress Robin Steans chaired a breakfast for "Advance Illinois" (above). The group had invited U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to speak about corporate school reform. Most teachers, who were protesting outside, were barred from the Regency Hyatt Hotel where the event took place, and a number of them were threatened with arrest for trying to enter the hotel and be part of the event. One year later, the group that had been protesting Steans and Duncan was elected to lead the Chicago Teachers Union. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.In a June 17, 2014 morning show, WBEZ managed to devote five minutes to Steans's views on teacher tenure. While some of Steans's anti-union bias has been reduced since the days when her friends were threatening to arrest future teacher union leaders who were protesting a "breakfast" at the Hyatt featuring Arne Duncan -- but no teachers -- Steans still has the official line of Chicago's ruling class, and her organization's funders, down. Advance Illinois is chaired by Bill Daley and Jim Edgar and is one of the many groups the get their marching orders and their money from what historian Diane Ravitch has called "The Billionaire Boys Club."

For six years, Advance Illinois has been promoting attacks on teacher job protections and union seniority through the claim that "bad teachers" are protected by union contracts and tenure laws. Although Steans's influence in Illinois has abated since 2009 and 2010 when she was created, basically, as the "non-partisan" voice of "school reform," the nuances of her attacks on teacher job protections and her support of ludicrous test-based measures of teacher effectiveness continue unabated. The June 17, 2014, appearance on WBEZ was just the most recent iteration of that bias on the part of "public radio." No one from the Chicago Teachers Union or the Illinois Federation of Teachers was on the show to provide a counter to Steans's claims and slants.



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