Rahm Emanuel is beginning to look like a politician whose re-election campaign may be on the brink of collapse before it's even officially begun. His political achilles heel surprisingly turns out to be his autocratic control over Chicago Public Schools. Most everyone thought his greatest vulnerability would be his cover-up of the Laquan McDonald police killing.
What should have been his strong suit, running as an "education mayor," is now buried in a volcanic lava flow of school privatization, corruption, inequality, and dysfunction.
His new schools CEO, Janice Jackson, the fifth CEO in six years, has gone from looking like a source of hope for change, to being little more than Rahm's political functionary, in just a few months, even fronting for the mayor in commercials touting the progress at CPS, bankrolled by a nonprofit with close ties to MRE.
Instead of talking about alleged increases in standardized test scores and graduation rates, the mayor could spend the next eight months leading up to the election dodging questions about the mountain of scandals piling up at CPS.
These include hundreds of recently revealed cases of sexual assault and abuse of students over the past decade, cases that were ignored or covered up by CPS' law department and the mayor.
My alderman, Scott Waguespack (32nd), put it bluntly:
“This is about more than politics, it’s a core issue of our humanity. We’re calling for a City Council hearing on what the Tribune found. Every alderman should be demanding to have CPS there and the mayor’s people, too. He’s the boss. Emanuel is the mayor.”Then there's new reports of mountains of filth and vermin in the schools since custodial services were privatized by Rahm and former CEO Forrest Claypool, who resigned in December after being charged with "ethics violations."
The Sun-Times reports that SodexoMAGIC and Aramark Corporation have received nearly $800 million in contracts to privatize school engineers and custodians and bust their union. Coincidentally, SodexoMAGIC made an extraordinary campaign contribution of $250,000 to Emanuel. And Aramark has charged CPS with over $20 million in cost overruns.
|U of C Lab School fired Aramark over mouse droppings|
The irony of all this is that the University of Chicago Lab School, the expensive private school where elites like the mayor and former Ed Sec. Arne Duncan send their kids, just gave Aramark the boot after finding mice droppings in school food. Looks like mouse poop is only OK for other people's children.
There's more, so much more, including pay-to-play scandals involving Rahm's hand-picked board members like Deborah Quazzo, who colluded with former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, now doing time in prison, to enrich herself at the expense of the schools.
If Rahm had any intentions of building his campaign on his running of CPS, it's looking more and more like his campaign is over before it's begun.