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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

March 24, 2010

ARNE DUNCAN KEPT LOG OF POWERFUL SEEKING ADMISSION TO SELECTIVE CHICAGO SCHOOLS

NY TIMES - When Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, was chief executive of the Chicago Public Schools, his office kept a log of nearly 40 pages listing the local politicians and business people and others who sought help getting children into the city’s most selective public schools.

According to an article in The Chicago Tribune, which first obtained and reported on the confidential log, those who sought such help included 25 aldermen, Mayor Richard M. Daley’s office, the State House speaker, the state attorney general, the former White House social secretary and a former United States senator.

A spokesman for the Department of Education said that the log was a record of those who asked for help, and that neither Mr. Duncan nor the aide who maintained the list, David Pickens, ever pressured principals to accept a child. Rather, he said, the creation of the list was an effort to reduce pressure on principals. . .

According to The Chicago Tribune, about three-quarters of those in the log had political connections. The log noted "AD" as the person requesting help for 10 students, and as a co-requester about 40 times, according to The Tribune. Mr. Duncan’s mother and wife also appeared to have requested help for students.

"The fact that his name might be next to some of these names doesn’t mean he was trying to get the kid in a school," Mr. Cunningham said. "He was only asking after someone said, ‘Hi, Arne, is there any way to get into this school?’ ". . .

Admission to top Chicago schools has long been a competitive and murky process, with longstanding rumors of abuse. Mr. Duncan created a formal appeals process in 2008, and when he left to join the Obama administration, his successor, Ron Huberman, created a system to stop the gaming of the system.


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