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01.01.2009 0

The Chicago-ization of American Education

  • On: 01/12/2009 10:39:46
  • In: School Choice
  • By William Warren

    Here’s a brilliant idea: why not appoint the failed superintendent of one of America’s most notorious cesspools of education and ineptitude to the post of national Secretary of Education?

    Apparently, mind numbing tolerance of total inadequacy transcends the Chicago public school system and now has found its way into Barack Obama’s plan for nation-wide education. That at least seems to be the case based on the President-elect’s choice of Arne Duncan to be the next standard bearer of American learning.

    Mr. Duncan has served—or, better put, abandoned—the children of Chicago as the Chicago Public Schools superintendent from 2001-2008 and is now packing his bags and heading on up to the East side—Washington, to be specific. And although his departure from Chicago leaves the potential for better leadership there, it spells trouble for the rest of the nation.

    For the past five years the Chicago district has failed to meet the federal standards established by the No Child Left Behind Act implemented in 2003 to hold states accountable to annual progress goals. Mr. Duncan’s district—number 299—failed to make “Adequate Yearly Progress” in key areas, especially among student subgroups.

    The following excerpt from the CNSNews article articulated the state of decay in which Mr. Duncan’s school system now finds itself:

    “The Chicago school district is currently on ‘Academic Watch’ status, based on its failure to make adequate progress for four consecutive years–and in year two of academic watch for failure to make required improvements.”

    Mr. Duncan’s ineptitude, however, doesn’t end in the classroom. His anti-Midas touch apparently infected the entire system. According to a recent article from Judicial Watch, Chicago’s education difficulties extend far beyond actual education. As the article describes:

    “According to an annual report published by the Chicago Public Schools Office of Inspector General, a record 1,012 cases of fraud and waste were investigated last fiscal year, including a district manager who spent nearly $70,000 to buy 30 cappuccino machines for a work-school program. Most of the machines haven’t even been opened and a few disappeared.

    “The Inspector General’s 31-page report includes charts and graphs that help illustrate the crisis in one of the country’s biggest public school districts. It reveals that the competitive bidding process—mandatory in all public sectors—was repeatedly ignored, high school staffers changed grades to help student athletes and employees at a restricted-enrollment school falsified addresses to get relatives admitted.”

    In short, not only does Chicago educational leadership fail in terms of their students’ achievement, but they also breed corruption, fraud, waste, and utter malfeasance. And the truth is, they even have their in-house terrorist in one Bill Ayers, who not long ago teamed up with the President-elect, himself, to administer yet another failed education program.

    Clearly, the situation in Chicago tragically illustrates the crucial message already articulated in places like Washington D.C. and other parts of the country: State-held monopolies on education are bad for students and for parents who desire for leadership and accountability from their children’s educators.

    From private schools, home-schooling, school vouchers and tax credits to parents, Americans have said time and again that they want more options with which to educate their kids. Moving forward, the nation’s leaders would do the country a great disservice by abandoning the principles of school choice—especially to someone who virtually personifies the problems now endemic to the failed system of government schools.

    It appears that Obama’s choice—in the form of Arne Duncan and the abysmal Chicago standard—is what the country must now deal with. While he’s at it, Mr. Obama ought to appoint Rod Blagojevich to the post of Secretary of Commerce and Tony Rezko to the post of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. If his intentions are to recruit Chicago’s worst, the President-elect has a wide array of old friends and erstwhile associates at his disposal.

    So when little Malia and Sasha return home after an enriching day at Sidwell Friends private school and ask their father what he did at work today, he can look them in the eye and fraudulently claim he was hard at work ensuring American kids the best education possible.

    On the bright side, however, at least with Arne Duncan in D.C., the children of Chicago will be left behind to a better fate than he forced them to endure.

    William Warren is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.

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