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Obama, Ayers, & "Radical" Education Reform

Bill_ayers_wsjA piece in today's Wall Street Journal digs deep into the history of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge to try and figure out how close was the association between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers, and indeed unearths some new documentation that no one else has gotten to (ie, minutes and records from CAC board meetings). 

But the paper's findings don't seem to me to be so startling or upsetting as the paper would make it seem  (Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism on Schools).  We already know that Obama and Ayers overlapped  working on the project.  We already know what the CAC did:  hand money out to community and education groups. 

Sure, the Obama campaign may have downplayed the association.  Shame on them.  But nothing "radical" came of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.  The Challenge gave money to education and community groups but failed to transform CPS in any wide or lasting way.  For my 2001 chapter on how the Challenge evolved in Chicago, click here: From Frontline Leader to Rearguard Action (Fordham Foundation).


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Your post makes it sound like the WSJ did an investigation. Did you notice that it was an opinion piece? The essay's tone suggests something sinister about giving money to community groups and about collaborations. As you well know, from having written about the Annenberg Challenge yourself, the ground rules set up by the grantmakers required communities to create collaborations with community groups. None of the reporting on the Chicago Challenge grant that I've seen puts it into the context of the larger Annenberg Challenge. The reporting makes it seem that this wild, radical project came out of nowhere in Chicago. Chicago was no doubt distinctive in some ways but so were all of the projects that came out of the Annenberg Challenge. The results in Chicago were not unusual.

richard --

yes, written as an opinion piece -- but reported nonetheless and not that different from
what has been published elsewhere in news stories.

as for interpreting the piece, it sounds like we agree that calling the challenge radical is what is most over the top.


"But nothing "radical" came of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. "

Hmm. How about Barack Obama?

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