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Bill Daley is Running for Chicago’s Next Mayor. School-Closure Supporter Peter Cunningham is Managing the Campaign.

October 20, 2018

Another Daley is running for political office in Chicago:

Bill Daley for Mayor.

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Bill Daley

Both Daley’s father and brother took turns as Chicago’s mayor, and not without taint to the legacy, as the September 16, 2018, Chicago Tribune reports:

Whoever runs, Daley will have the most recognizable name. His father, Richard J. Daley, served as mayor for 21 years before dying in office in 1976 and is considered Chicago’s most powerful political boss. Richard M. Daley presided over City Hall for 22 years, declining to seek re-election in 2011.

Richard M. Daley’s era was punctuated by financial woes and included corruption scandals that took down top aides and allies. But his tenure also is remembered as a stabilizing time when racial chasms in the city’s politics were narrowed. The downtown boomed with development at a time when other Rust Belt cities struggled, and Chicago was beautified in many ways, most notably with the construction of Millennium Park.

Richard M. Daley was the first mayor to exercise mayoral control over Chicago Public Schools (CPS), appointing Chicago native Paul Vallas (also in the 2019 mayoral race) as CPS CEO in 1996, the same year that the state legislature passed the Illinois Charter School Law. Vallas also “balanced the budget” by underfunding Chicago teacher pensions.

In was under Daley-Vallas that charter schools appeared on the CPS scene, the growth of which continued with the 2001 exit of Vallas and appointment of Arne Duncan as CPS CEO and culminated in a school-closure, charter-favoring mess under mayor Rahm Emanuel, with Duncan moving onward and upward as former President Obama’s US ed sec in 2009.

But let us return to Bill Daley and his February 2019 run for Chicago mayor.

Daley’s campaign manager is none other than Chicago son, Peter Cunningham, a former assistant to US ed sec Duncan and founder of the billionaire-funded ed reform blog, Education Post.

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Peter Cunningham

Indeed, Cunningham has a growing list of behind-the scenes and modestly-visible influence Chicago education, as he notes in this January 2018 end-of-article disclosure:

Disclosure: Peter Cunningham was an assistant secretary for education in the Obama administration; an aide to Mayor Richard Daley when he assumed control of Chicago Public Schools in 1995; a consultant to Chicago Board of Education President Gery Chico in the late 1990s; and a senior adviser to then–CPS Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan from 2002–08.

Cunningham is an ed reformer set to manage the mayoral campaign for yet another Chicago mayor who will exercise control over Chicago’s public schools.

Meanwhile, the ed reform movement is a bust in Chicago, the “under-appreciated reason” that Emanuel might have chosen not to run for reelection, as Washington Post writer Sally Naumah observes, based upon her own research:

Two-term Mayor Rahm Emanuel shocked Chicagoans by announcing he would not run for reelection. The surprising announcement has been followed by widespread speculation about the reasons behind Emanuel’s decision, particularly given that there was no clear competitive contender to replace him.

Several articles cited Chicago’s increasing gun violence as an issue shaping Emanuel’s decision. Far less discussed, and understood, was the role of his controversial 2013 decision to close nearly 50 public schools — the most schools closed in one city in a single year in modern U.S. history.

Emanuel and then-Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett argued that closing schools would help solve the problem of underutilization, where there are more seats than students in each classroom.

But nearly 88 percent of the students affected by the closures were African American. And after the closures in 2015, Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty to a bribery scheme. As a result, thousands of community members, students and parents came together to protest the closure decision. …

To be sure, the mass closure of schools occurred nearly five years ago; many other issues are boiling in Chicago politics. But the issue remains fresh. … In 2018, the city closed still more schools in black and brown communities. And in the spring, the University of Chicago released a report showing the closures had been poorly handled and that students from the closed schools fell behind in reading and math, with effects lasting for years.

A major issue concerning Chicago school closures is the fact that as neighborhood schools were closed, charter schools continued to open, both in areas with enrollment drops as well within two miles of shutered neighborhood schools.

As for Cunningham’s opinion of Chicago school closures, consider his January 2018, thoughts on the matter:

…With Emanuel’s five-year moratorium on school closings expiring this spring, Chicago still has between 100 and 200 underenrolled schools. Like it or not, more school closings seem inevitable, and that’s not all bad. …

Chicago’s mayors brought choice, accountability, quality, and rigor into the system, and they took a lot of heat for it. Absent their leadership, Chicago would not be where it is today.

So, given the mess that previous Daleys and others have created of Chicago’s neighborhood schools, and given Cunningham’s ed reform bent, the major question is how Cunningham-managed Daley will try to shape the Bill Daley campaign narrative related to Chicago public education.

Given that the Chicago mayoral election is not until February 2019 and is therefore currently overshadowed nationally by the November 2018 midterms, does Team Cunningham-behind-Daley hope to avoid the topic for as long as possible?

Will Cunningham manage Daley into publicly declaring school closure “not all bad” and patting the legacy of mayoral control of Chicago’s schools on its proverbial back?

Or will Cunningham be forced to perform some creative rendition of the school closure-school choice back pedal, all in the name of Getting My Guy Elected?

We’ll see, America. Too much mayorally-controlled, ed-reform destruction has happened to their schools for Chicagoans to not force the issue.

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

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