This week we're celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta which is widely considered the foundation of parliamentary democracy, human rights and the supremacy of the law over autocracy. It established the principle that the monarch is not above the law.
Meanwhile in Chicago, where the public schools have been placed by law under the autocratic rule of one man --the mayor -- there's much being made over questions of who approved the decision to hire now-disgraced CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett back in 2012 and who approved that $20 million no-bid contract to SUPES. Everyone knows the answer to these questions but they are still the topic of the day for federal investigators in the midst of grand jury hearings. It's doubtful that indictments, if any are brought, will reach anywhere near the fifth floor of City Hall.
As Rahm and his predecessor might have put it: "We don't need no stink'n Magna Carta".
Since the signing of the Magna Carta, democratic revolutions have swept the world clean of many czars and monarchs. But when it comes to urban public education, the trend appears to have been reversed. This was highlighted by Gov. Rauner's recent appointment of state "education czar", Beth Purvis following a Chicago Tribune editorial calling on CPS to put a turnaround expert at the top of the school system, with "Mussolini-like powers to execute and implement."
|Duncan pinned his success to mayoral control of schools.|
Ironically, mayoral control in Chicago has resulted in 6 school chiefs in six years and greater instability than ever before. Another teachers strike seems almost inevitable.
Duncan proclaimed at the time:
"At the end of my tenure, if only seven mayors are in control, I think I will have failed."By next year his tenure will have ended, his race-to-the-top and his planned expansion of mayoral control tossed in the waste bin of history. He will, by his own admission, have failed.
By then, hopefully Chicago will have joined with the rest of the state and most of the country in having an elected school board and the spirit of the Magna Carta may have survived yet another test.