Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Is Rahm falling from White House grace?

Following up on my post from Saturday, I'm told that Nancy Pelosi had a come-to-Jesus talk with Rahm Emanuel following her Saturday appearance at Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH. It looks from here like Rahm, the autocrat, has been taken down a peg by the party bigwigs and told in no uncertain terms to heal his rift with Jackson. .

It was only a little more than a week ago that Rev. Jackson openly sided against Rahm and with the CTU and community activists, who had packed a CPS board meeting to protest the board's decision to close more neighborhood schools and hand them over to a politically connected, private turnaround company, AUSL.

Jackson and CTU President Karen Lewis openly denounced  the policies of Rahm's hand-picked board as "education apartheid," a move which immediately re-framed the whole reform discussion and put Rahm and his cronies on the defensive. A day later, Rahm made his schools boss, J.C. Brizard get up in front of the media and deny that he was running an apartheid system.

Pelosi then flew in to Chicago, stood side-by-side with Rev. Jackson at PUSH and then endorsed Jesse Jackson, Jr. in his congressional  re-election bid. The timing and place of the endorsement was an obvious slap at the mayor who then was forced to to come out himself and openly endorse Triple J.

The party leadership is obviously worried about Rahm's rift with Jackson as well as the growing resistance to Rahm's attack on public schools, especially in the black community. There's the risk that the growing school protests will spill over into upcoming Occupy protests scheduled here for May and possibly lasting up until election time.

Teacher unions are are a badly-needed ally of Democrats in the November elections. But Rahm's war on the unions, reminiscent of the anti-union assault by T-Party guvs like  Wisconsin Gov. Walker, is obviously becoming a concern of the White House. Yesterday, Brizard stunned many of his own supporters when he came out in favor of using federal education funds to be used to send CPS kids to private schools.

Chicago Reader pic
To make matters even worse for Rahm, the White House announced yesterday that it was pulling the G8 Summit out of Chicago and moving it to Camp David. The White House says the change was not in response to the possibility of protests, which means that's exactly what it's about. Rahm had essentially moved to suspend Constitutional freedoms during the May 18-19 Summit.

According to a report in the Monitor, Rahm didn't even learn about the change until yesterday making it pretty clear that he has fallen from grace in the party's inner circles.
Monday's announcement appeared to catch many in Chicago by surprise. A spokeswoman for Emanuel said the Chicago mayor was informed about the location change in a Monday phone call from a White House official. Chris Johnson, spokesman for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said his organization was "just as surprised about the announcement as anybody else."
Chicago will still play host to the NATO Summit, May 20-21at great expense (conservatively estimated at $65 million) to city residents, mainly for a massive police presence. Thousands of anti-war and civil-liberties protesters are still preparing to come to the city and make their voices heard, according to Joe Iosbaker of the United National Antiwar Committee in Chicago.

Check out the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky who has been writing the best local stuff on this.

Now we'll see if the CTU and it's allies can take advantage of this rift in upcoming negotiations and in support of legislative efforts to stop the school closings.


  1. I think your overestimating support for the CTU and teachers unions in general. From a citizens point of view, CTU, CPS and AUSL are pretty much the emotional equivalent of the current Republican presidential candidates: Is that really all there is?

    Does CTU and you teachers have any workable ideas about improving school management? All I see is the CTU's proposal to add thousands of new members. Both CPS and CTU seem too big to be responsive organization.

  2. Actually, the CTU does have a comprehensive plan to improve the schools which is based on educational research and best practices. You can find the document at their web page.

  3. d, your ignorance may be bliss but it doesn't help the situation by revealing it here. To lump together the CTU, CPS and AUSL shows how little you understand about the situation in Chicago. And them to compare all three to the Republican presidential candidates tells me that you should just say no and pass that doobie on to the next guy.

  4. Anonymous, the plan makes CTU bigger! The only people in Chicago interested in CTU growth is CTU.
    I looked at statistics at Crane during the closing controversy. I have no respect for CTU advocating keeping a school like that open. A 14 ACT and 58% attendance? That's not a school, it's teenage day care.
    We need to grow the few successful schools we have, and shut down poor performing schools - both traditional and charter.
    The CTU and supporters like Mike may please the home team with "grenade throwing", but these actions lose support of the majority of the city.
    Unfortunately (and unfairly) this climate contributes to the belief by some that CTU teachers don't work hard and don't care.

  5. d

    Let me start by saying, I am no "grenade thrower." I'm a word thrower about to fire a few at your anonymous ass.

    First you say you oppose "keeping a school like that open." Then you say that Crane isn't a school at all since it has low standardized test scores and attendance rates. So you really have no idea of what a school is, do you? It appears you also have little knowledge of the value of standardized test scores as a valid measurement for determining school vs. not-a-school.

    Secondly, the only reason some people may think that teachers "don't work hard and don't care" is because people like you keep spreading those lies on your blog and in the media.

    Third, there is not a shred of evidence that closing schools like Crane, in resource-starved, African-American communities does anything to improve learning outcomes for those students. In fact, there's plenty of research showing harm to students, who are often moved from one low-performing school to another, or to the communities in which they live.

    I also doubt that you represent "the majority of the city" as you claim. If the "silent majority," to use J.C. Brizard's terminology, really supported the school closings, he and the mayor wouldn't have to hire rent-a-protesters to come and speak out in board meetings. Would they?

    By the way, are you one?


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.