Catalyst: Well subsidized propagandists for corporate 'school reform'... Haider's promotion of a School Finance Authority is consistent with his long career as a corporate 'reform' leaders...

Donald Haider is a professor at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, with long time affiliations to corporate school reformers in Chicago. He is far from an "objective" analyst, with close ties to the "Daley wing" of Chicago's Democrats.Whether it's finding a "teacher" (who hasn't been teaching for too long) to praise charters schools' scripted and militarized versions of instruction or locating an "expert" who is far from neutral to spout the corporate party line, Catalyst magazine continued during late 2015 and early 2016 to be a mouthpiece for corporate "reform." But the trick about Catalyst is that many people believe that the magazine's stories are somehow "objective" when in fact they are corporate propaganda.

The most recent and dramatic example came when Catalyst examined whether Chicago Public Schools should return to the infamous days of the Chicago School Finance Authority to head off "bankruptcy." As their expert on such things, Catalyst chose Donald Haider, currently a professor at Northwestern University.

Haider is far from neutral or objective. Substance readers first met Haider when he was a key aide to then State's Attorney Richard M. Daley in the early 1980s. This reporter had a first hand look at how Haider worked. In late 1982, Substance editors decided to publish extensive interviews with the mayoral candidates of the Democratic Party. The two we would interview were Harold Washington and Richard M. Daley. In order to get the interviews for our readers, I agreed to provide the candidates with a complete transcription of their words before we published.

My three-hour interview with Harold Washington went easily. Harold knew the city and spoke in well organized sentences, paragraphs, and sections. I transcribed it, and brought it to his Congressional office on S. Cottage Grove, where I had done the interview. He looked it over briefly and made no changes. "It's what I said, and what I mean," he said to me, He shook my hand and thanked us for being willing to publish so much information.

My interview with Richard M. Daley was very different. During the more than two hours I had the tape running, Daley plunged in and out of a lengthy run-on sentence, his thoughts a jumble of facts, opinions, and nonsense (cliches were a big part of his public statements, along with that famous "Daley giggle").

When I took the transcription to the Daley campaign office, I was told to give it to "Don Haider." Haider took it, and then asked for more time. And more time still. I was by then on deadline, and insisted we get the transcription I had worked on with such difficulty (as many who have tried to transcribe know, it's relatively easy to transcribe someone who speaks clearly, as Harold Washington did. It is much more of a challenge to transcribe someone like Richard M. Daley, who stumbled, mumbled, and rarely escaped from one sentence or "thought" before he had plunged head first into something else.

Haider finally gave me the edited transcript, and it bore little resemblance to what I had been subjected to by the candidate. But because of the deal we had made to get both interviews, Haider's "Daley" was what our readers received in our February 1983 print edition. (We had published the Washington interview in January 1983).

There are dozens of people who are experts on Chicago's public schools, and on CPS finances. To quote and cite Donald Haider as some kind of objective expert without warning readers of Haider's long affiliation with Chicago's corporate reformers is dishonest reporting, but not the only time Catalyst has done so recently.


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