"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Breakfast at Edna's (Backroom), Starring Arne Duncan and Chicago's Top Political Posers

Today we go the vault of golden oldies to remember the good ole days in Chicago, when Daley's henchmen played out their well-rehearsed Kabuki roles aimed to preserve their relationships with their constituencies while actually stabbing them in the back, or in the backroom, anyway.
A backroom deal in Chicago?
By Jesse Sharkey | March 10, 2006 | Page 2

CHICAGO ACTIVISTS opposed to a school-closing plan broke in on a backroom meeting that they believe was aimed at sealing the deal. Top school officials were found at a popular West Side restaurant Edna's--across the table from U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and state Sen. Ricky Hendon, whose districts include Collins High School, one of the schools slated to close.

Last month, the Chicago Board of Education (CBOE) voted unanimously to close four Chicago schools as part of its citywide privatization plan, called Renaissance 2010. The closings, announced a month earlier, aroused an outpouring of anger at the four high schools--Frazier, Farren, Morse and Collins--and the surrounding communities, all poor Black neighborhoods.

Davis and Hendon were among the most militant-sounding critics of the closures plan. At a town-hall meeting against the Collins closing, Davis and Hendon both denounced the city's plan as racist, and emphasized their long connection to the North Lawndale neighborhood. "We're going to show them how we fight," Hendon told the cheering crowd.

Several days later, at the CBOE hearing, Hendon threatened to cut off funding if the Collins closure went through. "You're not going to see a penny," he told Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan.

But Hendon seems to have been sending a different message behind the scenes. Last month, neighborhood activists spotted Hendon, Davis, Duncan and CBOE President Michael Scott in a back room at Edna's. Scott is also a local real estate developer with substantial business interests in the gentrifying West Side neighborhood.

After being alerted about the gathering, reporters from a local public access show, Hood News, burst into the room, with video rolling. "Is this the sellout crew?" the reporter asked. "Is this a secret meeting about Collins High School?" Ricky Hendon told the reporters, "Kiss my ass!" while Davis went for his cell phone and called police.

None of the participants would tell reporters what was on the agenda for the secret meeting. It is illegal under the Illinois Open Meetings Act for multiple elected officials to meet about policy in secret.

But it soon became clear what deal had been made when the board announced that Collins High School would close as planned--but only for one year, according to the board.

Hendon and his supporters hailed this as a victory, but the board had only ever planned to leave Collins closed for a year. Under Renaissance 2010, the board's scheme is to reopen closed schools as new charter schools, with new students and nonunion teachers.

Far from a victory, Hendon's deal gave the board exactly what they wanted--while delivering nothing to the teachers, parents and students in the neighborhood he and Davis pledged to represent.


  1. Chicago Schools Chief Commits Suicide
    NY Times, November 16, 2009

    CHICAGO — The president of the Chicago Board of Education, who had served in a variety of prominent posts here over three decades, was found dead early Monday morning on the banks of the Chicago River, in what the medical examiner ruled a suicide.

    The body of the 60-year-old official, Michael W. Scott, was discovered around 3 a.m. near the Merchandise Mart, a historic commercial center and office building downtown.

    Mr. Scott died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, according to the office of the Cook County medical examiner. A handgun was found under or near the body, said Jody Weis, the Chicago police superintendent...


  2. It says it all when you have the head of the Department of ED conducting Mafia style meeting in the back of a resteraunt. Did you see his performance on Meet The Press. There he was the new Secretary of Education (who ran a failing school system in Chicago) talking about teacher accountability. Next to him and also working for the children's welfare was Al Sharpton (who filed false case in New York district courts)and Newt Gingrich (who was booted out of the house of representatives for ethics violations). Then again they were appearing on GE's fake news program Meet The Press where they were interviewed by someone who wouldn't know a probing question if it hit him in the face, Dick Gregory. Then again, why should I say the whole presentation was unbalanced and really nothing more than propaganda when they did give the head of the teacher's union fifteen seconds in a little box to make her case before they talked over her. I can't wait for GE's dissertation on capitalism with Mao, Lenin,and Castro. Perhaps they can put Combs, from Hannity and Combs, on in a little box to make the case for capitalism.


    P.S. They kept saying how ironic and bipartisan it was that these three came together to save education. And I kept screaming to Dick Gregory and my TV that it might not be as surprising if he just examined their bank accounts. Then again he would be guilty of committing an act of journalism and that could never be. And I say the internet is killing journalism if we could just find a way to force people to buy what they're spewing.