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VALLAS WATCH, PART ONE, RACISM: Series begins with the racist record of the Vallas version of 'reform' in Chicago... Pat Quinn's hypocrisy exposed as voters get to take a closer look at the racist, union busting, and privatizing career of Quinn's running mate, Paul G. Vallas

Twelve years ago, in a special edition in print and on the Web, Substance reported on the crimes of Paul Vallas against public education. At the time, in early 2002, Vallas was a candidate for Governor of Illinois, hoping to get the Democratic Party nomination. Vallas failed to do so, losing in a three-way race which also included Roland Burrus and Rod Blagojevich. But the nation's ruling class took care of Paul Vallas, and the next thing we knew, Vallas was made chieftain of the Philadelphia public schools, put into power there by the Republican leaders of Pennsylvania following a report attacking that city's real public schools prepared by Edison School, Inc, the privatization group. The URL for the March 2002 Substance edition, "The Paul Vallas Hoax," is http://substancenews.com/archive/March02/index.html.

Pat Quinn's semi-secret decision to make Paul G. Vallas his running mate has drawn sharp criticism from many sides. As a result, Quinn has gone around campaigning without Vallas, after a few initial forays like the one above early in the campaign. Quinn was elected by the votes of Chicago teachers in 2010, especially following a last minute endorsement by the Chicago Teachers Union. Yet Quinn didn't have the courtesy to inform CTU leaders that he was saving Vallas's political career when he announced his running mate. Vallas is now the Quinn campaign's candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, but Quinn's campaign emails have not mentioned Vallas's name in months. Vallas's career in Philadelphia followed the same topsy turvy version of reality that Chicago had learned first hand during Vallas's years as the first "Chief Executive Officer" of a major urban school system. Vallas was CEO of CPS from July 1995 through June 2001, when he was forced out by then Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who replaced Vallas with Arne Duncan.

But today's lesson is a review, so were are reprinting here a couple of articles from the Substance special edition on Vallas from back in 2002.

VALLAS'S RACIST POLICIES.

As the record shows, the "reform" policies of the Vallas administration began with the announcement that more than 100 Chicago public schools were "failing" according to test results (at that time, the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, ITBS) and had to be put on "probation."

Despite all of the decades of research that showed a correlation between test scores and poverty, Vallas moved forward, with the held of Chicago's corporate media, in what amounted to an attack on the city's African American schools, which primarily served the children of the poor. When Paul Vallas became CEO of CPS in 1995, the majority of people working in the city's schools were African Americans. The policies of the Vallas administration began the reduction of black teachers and others in Chicago to the point where today black teachers are a rarity.

Four months after Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley ousted Paul G. Vallas as "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools, the Board of Education quietly began settling the civil rights lawsuits that had been filed by African American principals who had been publicly slandered by Vallas. Above, the Board Report from the October 24, 2001 Board meeting agreeing to pay Steve Newton more than $300,000 to settle Newton's federal lawsuit against the Board and Paul Vallas. With the help of the Chicago Sun-Times, which often collaborated with Vallas in slandering Vallas's enemies (including Substance), Newton was driven out of his job as principal of Marshall High School amid denunciations by Vallas. But as Newton's lawsuit proved, the whole thing was a set up orchestrated by Vallas, one of more than a half dozen attacks on black principals that became a hallmark of the Vallas years at CPS. At every point, Paul Vallas made sure that he had a few black aides de camp to provide him with protection from the charge of racism. And it is possible that Vallas simply pursued white supremacist policies, while he is not a racist in any philosophical sense. But the record became clear within a couple of years, as Vallas also blocked the hiring of several black people as principals, despite local school council support. The article below was one of the first serious exposes of Vallas unique brand of racism:

THE PAUL VALLAS I KNOW, BY DR. GRADY JORDAN (Substance, March 2002),

Has Chicago seen this much official racism since the end of Jim Crow?

The Paul Vallas I know

By Grady C. Jordan, Ph.D.. High School District Superintendent

1985-1995 (You may contact Grady Jordan at 773-637-2828)

After hearing some African-Americans singing the praises of Paul Vallas, I was reminded of the lady who, after listening to the tributes and eulogy for her late husband, went up to look into the coffin to see who was really there.

The Paul Vallas that I know misused the resources, authority, and prestige of his office to harass, humiliate, intimidate and attempt to destroy the careers of many Black people. Vallas’ negative tone toward Black people was set immediately upon taking office. In selecting staff for the top five positions in his administration, he did not interview one Black man. The pattern that he set of excluding Black men from positions of significance prevails to this day.

Despite this sorry legacy, last June I sat at the bar at the University Inn and saw dozens of Black men, led by Dr. John “Watch Dog” West, parading in to pay homage to Vallas. Even though they must have known that they would not be admitted, I saw several Black women present themselves at the door to register their presence. I guess they wanted “Ol Massa” to know that they tried their damndest to get onto the plantation.

Recently I have become aware of the fact that A. Phillip Randolph, after his long struggle on behalf of the Pullman Porters, turned down an offer of a million dollars to betray his people. During the Civil War, many Black soldiers refused to accept any pay because it was less than that being paid to White soldiers. These were men who understood the true meaning of manhood.

Paul Vallas’ web site [the Vallas campaign Web site during the 2002 primary] lists African American administrators, coaches and others who support Paul Vallas. If I may be allowed a personal question: How do you support Paul Vallas when you know that the following happened to me?

-- Banished from the system as a “black racist.” By contrast, a white colleague who had retired has worked every day in addition to drawing a pension.

-- Had to obtain a lawyer and fight to get my full pension.

-- Despite the fact that after 25 years as an administrator handling hundreds of millions of dollars without a single blemish, I was subjected to three years of a criminal investigation with Vallas’ States Attorney unit coming to my home twice.

But I was not alone among Black administrators and principals who were subjected to ill-treatment by Paul Vallas. I was merely among the first.

It was reported to me that in 1995 during a public meeting at Austin High School, Paul Vallas cavalierly announced that the principal, a Black man, was being replaced. This man, who had done absolutely nothing wrong, was hearing this for the first time. Why did Vallas need to rob this man of his dignity? I am convinced that it is because Vallas operates on the basis of the Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott case: “Black people have no rights that Whites are bound to respect.” He will use the taxpayers’ money to buy those Blacks that he feels he needs at the moment. As I heard one Black activist say: “He finds out a Black person’s price and then he doubles it.” With the taxpayers’ money of course.

Two years ago, a small group of Black men got together and compared notes on the principals who had been removed from their schools by Vallas. At that time, they came up with a list for 45. Of that number, 42 were Black. In other words, 93 percent were Black. This clearly is racial profiling. Black people who support Vallas should be concerned about this.

Early in the Vallas years, Christine Clayton was serving as principal of Senn High School. There was a racist cabal in the area that always wanted her out. When Vallas came in they found a soul brother. Christine Clayton was out. A hack politician from city hall shattered her career as an educator, for which she had worked hard for many years.

Consider:

Debrona Banks, Steve Newton, Beverly Martin, Shirley Woodard, Theodis Leonard, and others …the list is long.

Every one of these administrators was forced to file — and win — a lawsuit against the Board of Education because of the actions of Paul Vallas.

The number of Black principals and administrators who had to go through endless litigation to secure their rights since Paul Vallas took over is unprecedented. It would cause a major uproar in any other city. The cost to the taxpayers — millions of dollars in legal settlements, fees, and costs — would be a scandal in any city but Chicago and with any administrator but Paul Vallas.

At the same time he was undermining the authority of Black principals and administrators, Paul Vallas was terminating tenured teachers, large numbers of whom were Black, the heart of the school system, using equally unfair methods. Sadly, the teachers had fewer resources during those years than the principals who stood up to Vallas. Most have seen their careers finished by his policies.

In the process, are our children getting a better education? I don’t think so. The Vallas years saw the largest increase in the number of children driven out of the public school system, thanks mainly to the testing programs of Paul Vallas. Paul Vallas is now running for governor of Illinois. If he is successful, he will have a four-year contract with the people of Illinois. He would have every expectation of being allowed to fulfill his contract. Despite the fact that I consider Paul Vallas to be the most unprincipled, unscrupulous, unethical person I ever met in my professional life, I would be the first to say that if he wins fair and square, he should be allowed to fill the contract with the people of Illinois.

Unfortunately for a number of would-be black principals in the Chicago Public Schools, Paul Vallas is not so fair-minded. Local School Councils voted several Black members of the Chicago Public Schools staff contracts, but Paul Vallas would not allow them to fulfill those contracts. The courts have ruled that contracts voted by an LSC are valid. Vallas has spent millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money fighting and losing in court. Here are just a few, all from the past year:

-- On October 24, 2001, the school board quietly voted to pay a settlement of $261,216 to Steve Newton (and an additional $38,783.21 to his attorney). Vallas had slandered and removed Newton — under police escort! — from the principalship of Marshall High School four years earlier. The same screaming headlines that accompanied Newton’s humiliation at Marshall did not follow the more than $300,000 the school board paid to him because of Vallas’s policies.

By the time the Chicago Board of Education meeting of October 24, 2001 had ended, the Board had voted to pay more than $600,000 to settle civil rights suits brought by African American principals who had been slandered and pushed out of jobs by Paul G. Vallas during Vallas's years as CEO of CPS (1995 - June 2001). Despite the fact that the local school council of Paderewski Elementary School had voted to make Theodis Leonard the school's principal, Vallas blocked the hiring of the long-time community resident, teacher and administrator. The settlement in the Leonard lawsuit (above) cost CPS $300,000, and was the second to be agree to at the Board meeting. The settlements continued over the next year, as the record of the racism of Paul Vallas became established in federal court.-- Also on October 24, 2001, the Chicago Board of Education agreed to pay a settlement of $292,209 to Theodis Leonard, whom Vallas had removed as principal of Paderewski School as part of Vallas’s “probation” policy. Others may follow because of this same problem.

-- On November 28, 2001, the school board agreed to pay a monetary payment of $80,000 to Beverly Martin, whom Vallas had prevented from taking the position of principal of Gale School five years earlier. During the course of the litigation, the school board paid for three sets of attorneys (for Martin, for the LSC, and for the Board of Education) in a case that cost more than a quarter of a million dollars.

-- On February 26, 2002, Shirley Woodard spoke to the Chicago Board of Education and told the board how she had won a federal lawsuit (and a jury award of $300,000) because Vallas had removed her from the principalship of the South Loop School. Woodard’s comments made the newspapers because she is still not in her principal position and told the board that she is reporting to work every day but not being given duties at the Region 3 office.

And there are others who could be listed .

All of the people involved in the litigations cited here are Black. To my knowledge, all of the people who have been denied contracts under these circumstances have been Black. Everybody who works on any kind of job has hopes of advancement. When you spend time and money preparing for an upgrade, and then have it denied for no reason, it is a bitter pill.

One young Black man — Tom Brown — was voted a contract at Taft High School.

Vallas would not allow him to have the job. Vallas gave the job to a White man who had not received the votes. Not long after that, the young Black man died. How can all of the Black people who are supporting Vallas support this kind of racism? That’s exactly what you are doing. Recently, some White firefighters in Chicago were awarded damages and positions because it was ruled that they were victims of job discrimination. Vallas not only got away with it, but Black folk from the system are supporting him in his racism. I heard that a Black coach has been escorting him to Black churches.

The Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, which claims to be a union representing principals, has maintained complete public silence regarding this Vallas racism and Vallas’ practice of denying Black people their earned principals’ jobs. This sin was recently compounded when the executive board of the association voted to support Vallas for governor and gave his election campaign $5,000. There are a number of Black people on that board. I am herewith calling them out. You know who you are. A lot of other Black people know who you are. For the most part, Vallas singled out black principals to push out of their jobs. More importantly, he refused to allow several to assume their duly-awarded principal contracts. If you voted to support Vallas under these circumstances, or if you have kept quiet while others have, you are a traitor. Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hammer, Martin Luther King, et al must be spinning in their graves at such acts of Uncle Tomism, pathological individualism, and cowardice.

Fortunately, as in the Hanrahan election, rank and file Black people in Chicago have shown that they know who their enemies are despite the Judas goats that attempt to lead them to slaughter for their own selfish reasons.



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