MEDIA WATCH: Wall Street Journal bids farewell to Arne Duncan, chides Obama for not privatizing everything...

By the time Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the changing of the guard at the nation's third largest school system, the cynical manipulation of "diversity" criteria was evident on the stage set for the media. While the power was remaining in the hands of the mayor, Emanuel made sure, as usual, that he had the partial example of "Rahm's Rainbow" arrayed for the TV cameras. Above, from left to right, Denise Little, Jason Ervin, Frank Clark, David Vitale, Forrest Claypool, and Rahm Emanuel. There was no explanation why one alderman was in the photograph (except that the media event took place in his ward). In order to provide the partial diversity needed to keep that version of reality in place, Emanuel announced that Denise Little (far left) received a meaningless promotion at CPS. At the same time, corporate Chicago was represented by Frank Clark, whose entire public life has been devoted to charterization and privatatization (there is even a Noble charter school "campus" named after Clark). Left out of the public discussion of the corruption at CPS has also been the question of why at least one of the leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union praised Barbara Byrd Bennett, literally up to the eve of the indictments, and tried to thwart a challenge to Ervin's corrupt work on the West Side. The Wall Street Journal updated the world on its education agenda in an October 5, 2015 editorial about Arne Duncan's departure as U.S. Secretary of Education and John King's arrival in the Cabinet. Amazingly, given all the destructive privatization under Arne, the voice of globalization and "free market capitalism" is critical of Arne.

The Lost Education Opportunity

President Obama made a fine choice on Friday in John King, a charter school advocate, to be his next Secretary of Education. Then again Arne Duncan, who is returning to Chicago at the end of the year after seven years as Secretary, also arrived with much promise only to run afoul of the antireform inertia in the Democratic Party.

Mr. King has been a senior adviser to Mr. Duncan since last year and before that was state education commissioner in New York, where he pushed for higher standards. This made him unpopular with unions, which these days ought to be a requirement for any education leadership position. Mr. King helped found one of Massachusettsís top charters, Roxbury Prep, and later moved to New York to help launch the Uncommon Schools charter-school network.

Itís nonetheless hard to be optimistic that Mr. King can accomplish much in the waning days of the Obama Presidency, especially after Mr. Duncanís experience. Mr. Duncan did well to promote charter schools and high standards. His Race to the Top initiative used federal dollars to catalyze reform in the states, especially by encouraging them to hold teachers accountable for student performance.

Yet such progress was overshadowed by his unwillingness to fully take on the union-backed status quo. When Democrats in Congress killed a scholarship program that gave poor kids in the nationís capital a shot at a decent school, Mr. Duncan remained on the sidelines. He was also mute when the Justice Department sued Louisiana because its voucher program helped poor minority kids by letting them attend schools that didnít have enough whites.

Mr. Duncanís worst legacy is the Administrationís assault on for-profit higher education. He promoted the takeover of most student loans, piling up a trillion dollars in new federal liabilities. And his department, at White House insistence, has driven a ďgainful

employmentĒ rule that targets for-profit schools whose graduates donít meet the arbitrary debt-to-earnings level the Education Department thinks they should have.

The rule doesnít apply to the nonprofits and community colleges that often do even worse by employment, confirming a glaring double standard. Some of Mr. Duncanís admirers say he was merely going along with an agenda driven by the White House and Capitol Hill liberals, but the result has hurt minority and lower-income adults who benefit from the flexible schedules and job-focused skills that for-profits can provide.

The Obama Presidency has been disappointing on many counts, but education is its biggest lost opportunity. The nationís first African-American President had unique standing and moral capital to remake the politics of education. Mr. Obama might have united reformers on the right and left into a movement that empowered parents to choose the best school for their children regardless of their location or income. It might have been a unifying issue and a great legacy.

But he opted for tepid, and now his main K-12 legacy will be having presided over the unwinding of President George W. Bushís bipartisan No Child Left Behind reform. We were no fans of that law, but at least it elevated higher standards and performance measurement regardless of background. Those principles are now under assault by unions on the left and populists on the right.

One sign of how this debate has moved backward: The nationís two largest teachers unions have already endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. Mr. King looks to be a short-timer even if Democrats keep the White House in 2016.


October 6, 2015 at 5:47 PM

By: Michael J. Harrington

Wall Street Journal Myopia

I don't often agree with Wall Street Journal editorials. When I do, it takes a magnifying glass to find any words or a phrase that are in harmony with my views. Well, I found it in this editorial: "The Obama Presidency has been disappointing on many counts." There ya go!

October 8, 2015 at 5:52 PM

By: bob Busch


My wife was put on the do not hire list by her. I now know there is a god. But what about all the administrators those crooks hired? I hope and pray this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Now the feds need to look at all the contracts for so called Turn Around Schools. Small school communities and other various ways to scam the system. As to my wife , and others injured by that nickel slick bitch why is anything she signed valid? I will pursue this without the interference of the castrated CTU.I also wonder if Illinois Shield law will save her? Strange no local or state action.

October 8, 2015 at 10:33 PM

By: Anathaniel Hale

Fiascoes Uncovered!

It is unfortunate that the first mention of the scandalous contract was basically ignored. The entire Board needs to go as they all voted "Yea" and if good investigative reporting keeps up soon we will see the links to Broad and other insidious organizations. Hope she and her hoard get jail time. It is all one huge laughless joke that the citizenry pay for. All the lies Rahm built up during election season from distancing himself from BBB to touting erroneous stats on graduation and transfer rates. I could hang myself for voting for the clown. Looking like Wiley Coyote and the Grinch had a baby.

October 9, 2015 at 4:17 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Elected school board needed, as indictment proves

For all the lies about "accountability" in corporate "school reform" in Chicago, the indictments of Barbara Byrd Bennett merely scratches the "tip of the iceberg," simply shows the surface of things (to deliberately mix metaphors).

The scandalous history of the actions of the members of the Chicago Board of Education since Rahm Emanuel was inaugurated in May 2011 is one of the best arguments for the elected school board. Sadly, however, the other justice that should take place in this scandal will not... Every member of that school board should be indicted for their criminal actions. Every month, month after month, David Vitale and the other members of the Board of Education voted for massive privatization schemes, for the destruction of the city's real public schools, for the expansion of charter schools (that lie, cheat and steal from kids and poor families) and for hundreds of other crimes we will likely never know about -- unless one of them decides to come to Substance (where we will be waiting) and begin to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but... Let's never forget that a month before the SUPES deal the Board of Eduction voted in favor of the recommendations by the committee to close a record breaking 50 of the city's real public schools. That recommendation was made by a committee headed by former Commonwealth Edison CEO Frank Clark.

When David Vitale was finally dumped from the Board of Education in July 2015, he was replaced by his partner in crime -- Frank Clark.

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