The Chicago Tribune has a good story about people in high places exerting influence on admissions to Chicago’s top public schools. The reassuring factor is that the students often did not get in, but it’s troubling that former schools chief Arne Duncan, now U.S. education secretary, had his staff intervene in any way.
It doesn’t matter if the Chicago admissions system was “broken,” as some officials insisted. If the average person couldn’t appeal to Duncan’s office for help, no one should have been allowed.
Take a look at the story, which begins:
While many Chicago parents took formal routes to land their children in the best schools, the well-connected also sought help through a shadowy appeals system created in recent years under former schools chief Arne Duncan.
Whispers have long swirled that some children get spots in the city’s premier schools based on whom their parents know. But a list maintained over several years in Duncan’s office and obtained by the Tribune lends further evidence to those charges. Duncan is now secretary of education under President Barack Obama.
Often a sponsor’s request was rejected. Principals responded that a student’s scores were too low, or that the school was full. In other cases, the student hadn’t even taken the required admissions test, and therefore could not be considered, according to the documents.
The log is a compilation of politicians and influential business people who interceded on behalf of children during Duncan’s tenure. It includes 25 aldermen, Mayor Richard Daley’s office, House Speaker Michael Madigan, his daughter Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.
Non-connected parents, such as those who sought spots for their special-needs child or who were new to the city, also appear on the log. But the politically connected make up about three-quarters of those making requests in the documents obtained by the Tribune.