The problem with friends in high places, including Arne

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.

A Chicago Tribune investigation raises questions about whether Arne Duncan's office intervened in admissions to top Chicago public schools

A Chicago Tribune investigation raises questions about whether Arne Duncan's office intervened in admissions to top Chicago public schools

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.

12 comments Add your comment

Free Market Educator

March 24th, 2010
2:20 pm

This is good news. Free market principles have returned to Government! Those who can pay for goods and services have them, those who can’t , don’t.

old teacher

March 24th, 2010
3:04 pm

Typical Chicago-style politics…Been that way forever.

Proud Black Man

March 24th, 2010
3:45 pm

Just what the white right wants to hear. Look for Beck, Limbaugh, and Hannity to push this issue to the hilt as the teabag movement loses steam.


March 24th, 2010
5:33 pm

Well, it’s Chicago. As someone from Illinois, I’ve had to hear about this BS for a decent portion of my life – though I never got anything out of it as I’m from the southern part of the state, and anything from any region involving farmland got exactly jack and squat from these jokes.

I’m waiting for them to eventually get someone who isn’t a crook – Republican or Democrat – into office up there. And then I’ll dig out my winter clothes, because it’ll be a reeeeally cold day in hell when that happens.

alan marks

March 24th, 2010
5:36 pm

Well so what else is new thing he can do is resign, but he won’t he has a friend in “high places”.
One more example of the elites taking care of their own while they keep the poor kids in crap schools restrict their options to move to another school or ask for tutoring, This is a “Democratic” administration?


March 24th, 2010
6:35 pm

Yes, and President Obama pays about $30,000 per year tuition for EACH of his girls to attend Sidwell Friends, but the rest of us have to sign up for the RTTT lottery that’s going to give dollars borrowed from China to poor schools that Duncan decides are deserving.

And people in Georgia think that $9,000 per student per year is too much for tuition….

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Rattling Skeleton

March 24th, 2010
8:38 pm

“SALF-gate? 49,000 questions for Education Secretary Arne Duncan,” Cincinnati Beacon, 12/17/09:

Let us unite for the children

March 24th, 2010
8:57 pm

I’m proud that great educational leaders such as Beverly Hall, Rod Paige and Arne Duncan are leading the way toward American public schools having no equal in the world. We should support these great educators of impeccable morals and character who are some of the most courageous and visionary citizens to ever grace our soil.

I’m proud to be an American.


March 25th, 2010
7:26 am

Let us Unite…While I too am proud to be an American, I realize, and I am afraid that you do not, that Arne Duncan, Hall and the like are counting on money to educate our students that will just turn out to be those same students’ debt! If you think our students will be better educated (which I am not so sure is true) they will be the poorest smart student on our history. Debt is debt. Until the powers that be actually prioritize funds and shift funds to education, not borrow money for education, we will never have what you so naively vision.


March 25th, 2010
7:47 am

This just adds to the sickness of people like Duncan and Obama holding our tax money hostage for education. Then force their Race to the top agenda on the states through competitive grants.

Corrupt people who are arrogant are very dangerous to me as an individual who can make my own decisions.


March 25th, 2010
2:46 pm

I think (hope) Let us unite for the children was being sarcastic. See “impeccable morals”?????