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Obama's Lost Annenberg Years Coming to Light


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August 21, 2008

Obama's Lost Annenberg Years Coming to Light

By Thomas Lifson

The cloak of media invisibility is slowly beginning to lift from Barack Obama's most important administrative leadership experience, helming an expensive educational reform effort in Chicago that failed to produce any measurable academic gains, according to the project's own final report.

Add in the fact that former Weatherman and admitted terrorist William Ayers (whom Obama described in the Philadelphia debate as merely a "neighbor") was head of the operating arm of the CAC, working with Obama on distributing scores of millions of dollars to grantees in the wards of the city, and you have a topic that the Obama campaign wishes to avoid at all costs.

A compliant media has averted its eyes so far. A timeline of Obama's career from George Washington University omits it. Why the McCain campaign has not raised more questions on the subject is a question beyond my pay grade. But there are signs it is on the case.

The four plus years (1995-1999) Barack Obama spent as founding chairman of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) represent his track record as reformer, as someone who reached out in a public-private collaboration and had the audacity to believe his effort would make things better. At the time he became leader of this ambitious project to remake the public schools of Chicago, he was 33 years old and a third year associate at a small Chicago law firm, Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland.

This was a big test for him, his chance to cut his teeth on bringing hope and change to the mostly minority inner city school children trapped in Chicago schools. And he flopped big time, squandering lots of money and the time of many public employees in the process.

Given Senator Obama's lack of any other posts as leader of an organization, someone unschooled in the ways of the American media might expect that for months reporters have been poring over the records of the project to get an idea of how it managed to fail so badly. Examining the track record of the guy who wants to lead the federal government would seem to be part of the campaign beat for media organizations.

But as a matter of fact, until recently, only a few bloggers were looking into the most important organized effort ever led by Barack Obama, prior to his successful campaigns for public office.

The Cover-up

Now, it appears a cover-up is underway, in order prevent journalists and researchers from getting access to the records of this charitable project housed in a taxpayer supported library. And there is a mystery:

The UIC Library says it is acting on behalf of the donor, whom it refuses to name.

It took Stanly Kurtz, of National Review Online to ask permission to see the files held by the publicly-funded University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). After initially agreeing, The Richard J. Daley Library withdrew permission. Kurtz writes:

"The Special Collections section of the Richard J. Daley Library agreed to let me read them, but just before I boarded my flight to Chicago, the top library officials mysteriously intervened to bar access. Circumstances strongly suggest the likelihood that Bill Ayers himself may have played a pivotal role in this denial. Ayers has long taught at UIC, where the Chicago Annenberg Challenge offices were housed, rent-free. Ayers likely arranged for the files of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge to be housed in the UIC library, and may well have been consulted during my unsuccessful struggle to gain access to the documents. Let me, then, explain in greater detail what the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) records are, and how I have been blocked from seeing them."

It is highly unusual and legally questionable for a publicly-funded archive to deny access to records in its collection, particularly when they have a bearing on matters of intense public interest: the qualifications of a man seeking to be Commander in Chief.

But even if the university manages to stall release of the records until after the election, it is only drawing attention to the project. Already, the nation's mainstream media have taken notice (however imperfectly) of the University's unusual actions, albeit without exploring the subject in any depth yet.

In the midst of a heated presidential campaign, it is going to be hard to keep this interest in Obama's Annenberg years contained, now that it has surfaced.

A blogger, Steve Diamond, has put together enough data from public sources to seriously embarrass Obama over the closeness of his association with Ayers in the project, and to describe the wrong-headed and politicized approach taken by the project. Anyone can go to this page and look at the latter half of the very lengthy post to see the data uncovered by this intrepid researcher. At a minimum, it proves that Obama has seriously misled the public about his association with Ayers. And it documents and analyzes some of the complex left wing politics underlying the effort.

As the public begins to notice this outlines of the history of the CAC presented by Diamond, more questions are bound to be asked.

The First Cover-up

Diamond examined public documents, receiving cooperation from the Brown University Library, where the Annenberg Challenge Program national headuarters had been housed. Until, that is, Diamond's requests for further information fell on deaf ears following publication of a post highlighting a grant to one of Ayers' former revolutionary cohorts in the Weathermen. He writes:

"...while the representative from the university I originally corresponded with had been quite friendly and accommodating prior to my June 23 post, afterwards my additional requests for further information went unanswered. I did not pursue it at the time because I felt I had told a significant part of the story already. Thanks to the diligent work of Dr. Kurtz, however, we now know there is much more to know."

So the appearance of a cover-up actually began in June.

If Ayers were the sole point of interest in seeking the Annenberg Challenge files promised to Kurtz, all "132 boxes, containing 947 file folders, a total of about 70 linear feet of material", then the Obama camp might claim it was merely guilt-by association and persuade at least some of its own partisans. But the fact that Obama was in charge of a massive expensive project makes it indisputably a matter of proper vetting to examine his track record at delivering on promises of hope and change.

The Obama camp has already noted that it does not control the archives at UIC. All well and good, though it would be nice for the candidate to plead with the university and the mystery donor to let the sun shine on his track record. After all, he is a new kind of politician.

But even if he doesn't, the Annenberg Challenge is slowly entering the national consciousness, and that's very bad news for Barack Obama.


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UPDATED 6/23 That “Guy Who Lives in My Neighborhood”: Behind the Ayers-Obama Relationship

The key points of this (long!) blog post:

1) Obama education advisor Linda Darling-Hammond responds to Global Labor blog posts on Bill Ayers and Reparations

2) Review of Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) documents shows that Ayers and Obama each chaired the two CAC operating bodies from 1995 to 2000

3) CAC was at heart of Chicago school “wars” in 90s

4) CAC handed out more than $100 million in Chicago school system

5) CAC failed to improve student achievement but Ayers and Obama’s political goals were tackled

UPDATED June 23d to include information on role of Bill Ayers' ally Mike Klonsky in Obama campaign.

A. Introduction

As my readers are aware I have pointed to the joint participation of Senator Obama and Professor Bill Ayers in the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an education reform project, as evidence of an older and deeper relationship between Ayers and Obama than the Senator has acknowledged. Because the political views, as well as the past criminal behavior, of Professor Ayers represent, in my view, an authoritarian approach to education and society as a whole, I believe that it is important for the public to have as complete an understanding of the Ayers-Obama relationship as possible.

Of course, many well-intentioned supporters of the Obama campaign who, for example, share my opposition to the war in Iraq and perhaps share my views on many other issues, will argue that this kind of discussion can only help the McCain campaign. It may indeed be true that the McCain campaign will benefit because of the relationship between Obama and Ayers.

But if that is the case then I think the left has to take responsibility for attempting to build its opposition to the war in Iraq and other policies of the Bush Administration on the basis of the objectionable political tactics used by, and the political views of, those who lead the Democratic Party. Thus, my hope is that by confronting the truth about that Party we can build an independent progressive movement that is transparent and accountable to its members.

It so happens that on a crucial political issue – education policy – I think there is a potential problem with the views of Bill Ayers and others in the Obama camp and potentially with the views of the candidate himself. Thus, I think it is important to pay careful attention to those views.

B. Enter the Obama Campaign

As evidence of the lengths to which the Obama campaign is willing to go to discourage an open and forthright exploration of the Obama-Ayers relationship, this week I received an unsolicited email from Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, of the Stanford University School of Education. Professor Darling-Hammond is an education advisor to the Obama campaign. In the email, she said she was writing to me about my blog which she found “completely mysterious” because I “tie [her] in” with Bill Ayers. She states “while I know Bill Ayers, I have never talked to him about policy in the Obama campaign or about whatever you mean by ‘reparations.’”

Now, as it turns out, I have no evidence that Professor Darling-Hammond has ever talked to Ayers about policy in the Obama campaign or reparations. I have, in fact, never said that on my blog. I have only said that Bill Ayers endorsed the proposal for the repayment of the centuries of “educational debt” that some allege is owed to people of color. This is a proposal that Professor Darling-Hammond has also endorsed. Both Ayers and Darling-Hammond support the idea of replacing the widely used concept of an “achievement gap” between different groups of students with the idea of an “educational debt” that has accumulated over centuries and that is responsible for poor academic outcomes for black and some other minority students.

Professor Gloria Ladson-Billings first proposed the “repayment of centuries of educational debt” idea in her Presidential Address to the American Education Research Association (AERA) in April 2006. AERA is the leading professional body for faculty in schools of education. Bill Ayers is currently a Vice President of AERA.

Ladson-Billings based her argument for the “educational debt” idea, in part, on the work of Randall Robinson in his book arguing for reparations for slavery. She quoted Robinson to support her approach as follows:

“What is it that we might owe to citizens who historically have been excluded from social benefits and opportunities? Randall Robinson (2000) states: ‘No nation can enslave a race of people for hundreds of years, set them free bedraggled and penniless, pit them, without assistance in a hostile environment, against privileged victimizers, and then reasonably expect the gap between the heirs of the two groups to narrow. Lines, begun parallel and left alone, can never touch. (p. 74)’”

The title of Robinson’s book is: The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks.

Professor Darling-Hammond endorsed the same proposal in an article she wrote for The Nation magazine in early 2007. Professor Darling-Hammond then released a report for the Forum on Education and Democracy (“FED”) earlier this year in which she stated that the #1 priority of the federal government should be to repay the “educational debt.” A co-convener of the FED is Gloria Ladson-Billings.

So I wrote back to Professor Darling-Hammond and pointed out that I had never said what she was now denying but asked her to correct any inaccuracies or mischaracterizations that might have appeared on my blog.

She wrote back and while she did not point out any inaccuracies or mischaracterizations, she did deny, once more, something that I had never said:

“Bill Ayers has no connection to the Obama campaign or to Obama’s policy proposals in education or any other area. I would appreciate your not attributing his views to me – or to the Senator.”

Of course, I think the Senator can speak for himself. Certainly Professor Darling-Hammond can. But I have never said that Ayers spoke for them.

However, it must be pointed out that a notorious ally of Bill Ayers for many years, Mike Klonsky, is an open member of the Obama campaign. Klonsky runs a blog on the official Obama website here where he claims to be a "professor of education" (the website of the Small Schools Workshop that he directs says only that he teaches some graduate courses, though it appears he was a visiting professor for one year at Nova Southeastern University in Florida in 2006-07) and says he blogs for Obama on "education politics and teaching for social justice."

Who is Mike Klonsky? Well, on one level, he might just appear to be a protege of Bill Ayers in the education world. He received, as I detail below, a $175,000 grant from the Ayers/Obama-led Annenberg Challenge to run the Small Schools Workshop that he and Ayers started in Chicago to push their school reform agenda.

But that is only half the story. Klonsky was one of the most destructive hardline maoists in the SDS in the late 60's who emerged from SDS to form a pro-Chinese sect called the October League that later became the Beijing-recognized Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist). As chairman of the party, Klonsky travelled to Beijing itself in 1977 and, literally, toasted the Chinese stalinist leadership who, in turn, "hailed the formation of the CP(ML) as 'reflecting the aspirations of the proletariat and working people,' effectively recognizing the group as the all-but-official US Maoist party." (Elbaum, Revolution in the Air, 228).

I know of no indications that Klonsky has ever expressed any regrets about that activity. Perhaps like his SDS comrade, Ayers, he, too, thinks he did not do enough back then. In my view they did more than enough.

An excellent profile of that maoist milieu is available in a book called Revolution in the Air by Max Elbaum, a first hand participant whose sympathy for the maoism of the period does not get in the way of an excellent account of these idiot savants of the left.

How is it possible that someone of Klonsky's ilk would now be playing a visible role in the Obama campaign itself on such an important issue as education policy - apparently with free reign to push his authoritarian "social justice" agenda?

The answer to that question escapes Darling-Hammond.

In any case, it is clear that Ayers and Darling-Hammond both hold the same opinion on a key education policy issue: support for repayment of centuries of “educational debt” to people of color.

C. The Competing New Education Agenda from EPI

Professor Darling-Hammond, interestingly, also signed another educational policy document recently. This one, called the Bold Approach, was prepared by a task forced convened by the Economic Policy Institute. While the Bold Approach document that resulted from this effort mentions race as one issue in education it does not mention anything about repayment of educational debt.

In her first email Professor Darling-Hammond stated, “Indeed, I am a signer of the EPI document that you applaud.” Of course, this is true, but it was not news to me – I had in fact already stated this on my blog.


The EPI-led “Bold Approach” represents a comprehensive, progressive multi-factor assessment of the education crisis and the responses necessary to confront it. Unlike the proposal by FED or the views of Bill Ayers, it does not put a racial perspective on the top of the list of things to do about education.

Ayers has put a racialist stamp on his politics for several decades. He was part of the leadership of the Weather Underground group in the late 1960’s that broke apart the Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS. He argued then, as he does now, that “white supremacy” is the original sin of American life.

White racism represents for him the same kind of “oppression” that the maoist movement he was influenced by then said was responsible for the plight of poor countries. Just as rich countries (like the United States or Germany) exploited poor countries (like China or Cuba) on an international scale, the Weather Underground argued, white people in the United States exploited black people. Thus, the role of the “revolutionary vanguard” of students was to support black revolutionary groups at whatever cost, including armed robbery and bombings. While Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn no longer engage in violence their political views have not changed.

While I do not think Professor Darling-Hammond, much less Senator Obama, endorses these particular views of Bill Ayers, she, too, emphasizes race when it comes to her assessment of the American school system. Recently, she wrote of

“the growing number of ‘apartheid’ schools that serve racial/ethnic minority students exclusively – schools that have little political clout and are extraordinarily impoverished.”

While there is no doubt that there is a resource disparity between many (but not all) schools with predominantly minority students and those with predominantly white students, it seems more than a stretch to compare this to apartheid, a system of government-imposed racial separation, fifty years after the Supreme Court held “separate but equal” to be unconstitutional.

In fact, government spending is actually weighted to favor low-income and underperforming school systems. The differences occur because of the private resources that some (by no means all) white dominated school systems are able to raise. But it is not altogether clear that additional resources would result in improved outcomes – at some point additional resources are not likely to overcome other deficits such as those linked to parental involvement, cultural support for learning or the health of young students.

So in my answer to the first email from Professor Darling-Hammond I wrote:

“I was certainly happy to see that you signed the EPI Bold Approach document, but it seems to me that the FED blue print that you co-authored takes a completely different approach, placing ‘repayment of education debt’ at the top of your list. As I assume you are aware, Gloria Ladson-Billings roots that concept, which I believe she originated (in her 2006 AERA speech), in the reparations work of Randall Robinson. I do not understand how repaying the ‘education debt’ can be reconciled with the multi-factor assessment of education of the Bold Approach; in any case, clearly that is not a road the EPI group went down, as far as I can tell.”

In her reply, Professor Darling-Hammond suggests that the two blueprints are, in fact, closer than might be apparent to the naked, or untrained, eye:

“The FED approach is very much aligned with the EPI approach and most of us work together. You will see there are a number of co-signers in common. FED’s policy proposals overlap substantially with the EPI proposals. The phrase ‘repaying the education debt” is used in the FED report to mean closing the opportunity gap that has accrued over a long period of time by investing in pre-school education (also in the EPI proposal) reducing inequalities in state and local spending on schools and boosting the federal investment in high-need schools (also in the EPI proposal). I’m not sure what the ‘reparations’ idea you are referring to would mean in education but I’d like to learn more about what you think about this when we have a chance to talk. I suspect you are interpreting the phrase we used in a way that is different than the way we meant it.”

Of course, this only seems to beg the obvious question: if the two blueprints are the same, then why are there, well, two of them? And why do they use different terms to mean, well, one and the same educational policy?

Professor Darling-Hammond says she is not sure what “reparations” idea I am referring to. If not, then perhaps there is another “educational debt” idea floating around out there proposed by Professor Darling-Hammond’s FED colleague, Professor Ladson-Billings, that is not rooted in the reparations argument of Randall Robinson. But if there are, in fact, two versions of what Ladson-Billings means by “educational debt” I have not been able to find the evidence for it.

Professor Darling-Hammond has generously offered to speak with me directly about these issues and I look forward to that conversation, the results of which I will be happy to share with my readers.

But for now I am left with the conclusion that the purpose of Professor Darling-Hammond’s unsolicited communications about my blog was an attempt to discourage anyone from thinking that she, Senator Obama or the Obama campaign’s views on education have anything to do with reparations or Bill Ayers.

I can certainly understand why the Obama campaign would see the tactical political advantage of doing so now – but it seems to me that should have been thought of long ago, when Senator Obama first began to work with Bill Ayers or when Professor Darling-Hammond first encountered the idea of repayment of the “educational debt.”

While I take her at her word that while she “knows” Bill Ayers she has not talked with him about the policies of the Obama campaign, I am not entirely convinced that Professor Darling-Hammond, much less the wider electorate, understands the close relationship that has existed, at least in the past, between Bill Ayers and Senator Obama when it comes to education policy.

D. Back to the Annenberg Challenge for a Closer Look

So let’s turn, then, to the other leg of this important conversation: the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (“CAC”).

The CAC was established in 1995 as a result of a $49.2 million grant from Walter Annenberg to support education reform in Chicago. Bill Ayers and Anne C. Hallett co-signed a letter submitting the grant proposal to Brown University President Vartan Gregorian on November 8, 1994 where the national Challenge office would be headquartered. The letter was on the letterhead of the University of Illinois at Chicago (“UIC”). Ayers identified himself as representing the UIC and the “Chicago Forum for School Change.” Ms. Hallett is identified as the Executive Director of the Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform. At the bottom of the letter, a parenthetical states: “On behalf of the Chicago School Reform Collaborative.”

The letter and the attached detailed proposal grew out of a process that began in December 1993 when a small group led by Ayers, Hallett and Warren Chapman of the Joyce Foundation “met to discuss a proposal to the Annenberg Challenge for support of this city’s public school reform efforts.” This group became the nucleus of the larger Chicago School Reform Collaborative, one of the two operational arms of the CAC, which Ayers would co-chair and on which Hallett and Chapman would serve. (Program Report, CAC, Jan. 1, 1995 through Mar. 31, 1996 at 1).

The letter makes the goal of the grant proposal explicit:

“Chicago is six years into the most radical systemwide urban school reform effort in the country. The Annenberg Challenge provides an unprecedented opportunity to concentrate the energy of this reform into an educational renaissance in the classroom.”

The attached proposal is titled: “Smart Schools/Smart Kids: A proposal to the Annenberg Challenge to Create the Chicago School Reform Collaborative.”

The six year old “radical reform effort” that Ayers/Hallett refer to, of course, was the establishment of local school councils (“LSC”) as a new center of power in the Chicago Public Schools (“CPS”) in 1988, in the wake of a 1987 teachers’ strike that proved unpopular to parents and reform activists in both community groups and business groups.

The Alliance for Better Chicago Schools (“ABCs”) was formed then to push for the LSC idea in the Illinois state legislature. Active in the ABCs was Bill Ayers, Barack Obama’s Developing Communities Project, and Chicago United, a group of businessmen concerned about race and education issues founded by Bill Ayers’ father, Tom Ayers, once CEO of the large Chicago utility, Commonwealth Edison (now Exelon).

By the early 1990s there was controversy about the LSC idea from many directions. At one point the 1988 law was actually declared unconstitutional and it had to be restructured. Another effort was underway to re-centralize control over the schools in the hands of the mayor’s office when the possibility of the Annenberg grant arose. This counter-reform effort, if you will, partially succeeded in new laws passed in 1995 and 1999.

But in 1993 the CAC grant proposal was seen by Ayers as an attempt, in part, to rescue the LSC’s. The grant proposal states,

“We envision a process to unleash at the school site the initiative and courage of LSC’s….” Later, it states “[t]he Local Schools Councils…are important both for guiding educational improvement and as a means of strengthening America’s democratic traditions.”

As I have argued elsewhere on this blog, I do not think that the link made here between the LSC’s and “democracy” is, in fact, accurate. I think that such “councils” look eerily similar to efforts by regimes like those in Nicaragua under the Sandinistas and Venezuela under Chavez to impose control over teachers and their independent unions by an authoritarian regime. Thus, it is not a surprise to me that Bill Ayers has traveled several times in recent years to Venezuela where he has spoken in front of Hugo Chavez and has enthusiastically applauded that regime’s efforts to link education policy to the Chavez “revolution.”

As Ayers stated in a speech there in November 2006 “La educacion es Revolucion!” He applauded “the profound educational reforms underway here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chavez” and he said he “share[d] the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution.”

Thus, in the midst of an intense political battle in Chicago over the LSC role in the schools, securing the CAC money was very important to the LSC reform effort backed by Ayers and Obama from the late 1980s. The Ayers/Hallett proposal stated that the money would provide

“a powerful catalyst for Chicago educators and parents to build on this base toward a sustained and serious advance….This is the critical step, that must be taken now, and the time is now.”

Indeed, the CAC proposal effort led by Ayers and Hallett was a critical part of what the Project Director of the CAC, Ken Rolling, described as the “political wars” being waged over schools in Chicago at that time. Ken Rolling was a veteran of those wars because in his previous role he had been a program officer of the Woods Fund, which supported the school reform effort through its grants, including grants to Barack Obama’s Developing Communities Project.

Other groups in other cities were competing for the same pool of funds (a total of $500 million made available by philanthropist Walter Annenberg) and, perhaps even more importantly, other groups in the city of Chicago with different policy views were applying to receive funds.

However, the Ayers/Hallett proposal was successful in the end with the decision made in late 1994. In January of 1995 the formal announcement of a grant of $49.2 million was made. That money would have to be matched by contributions from the private and public sector 2:1 for a total amount over the life of the project of approximately $150 million dollars to be disbursed in Chicago. (Apparently the actual amount raised was an additional $60 million for a total of $110 million.) The CAC set up an office in rent-free space at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where Bill Ayers taught.

E. The CAC Structure: The Board and the Collaborative work hand in glove

The Ayers/Hallett proposal described a three-piece structure established to carry out the CAC. The three “over-lapping entities each of which has clear tasks and responsibilities” included:

“The Chicago Annenberg Challenge Board (the Board); the Chicago School Reform Collaborative (the Collaborative); and the Consortium of Chicago Schools Research (CCSR).”

The Board would handle “all fiscal matters” including raising the required 2:1 matching funds (nearly $100 million required in a five year period) and “creating a grant-making system to disperse monies to schools and networks.” The Board would hire the Project Director, a full time professional staff position.

The first chairman of the CAC Board was Barack Obama, at that point, 33 years old and a third year associate at Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a small Chicago law firm.

He began the Board position in early 1995 and stepped down from the chairmanship in late 1999, though he remained on the Board until the CAC phased itself out of existence and handed off its remaining assets to a permanent new institution, the Chicago Public Education Fund, in 2001. The Board began to meet in March of 1995 and formally incorporated the CAC as a non-profit entity in April 1995.

Other board members included numerous already prominent Chicagoans: Susan Crown, Vice President of the Henry Crown Company; Patricia A. Graham, President of The Spencer Foundation; Stanley Ikenberry, President-emeritus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Handy Lindsey, Executive Director of the Field Foundation; Arnold Weber, former President of Northwestern University and then President of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago; and Wanda White, Executive Director of the Community Workshop on Economic Development. Some of these individuals would resign and be replaced by other equally prominent Chicagoans.

The second operating entity of the CAC would be the Collaborative that would represent various constituencies in the Chicago schools and wider community. It would be:

“A clearing-house for ideas, for resources, for information – the place where strategies are created, successes and failures analyzed, and plans made and shared. The Collaborative under the leadership of the [Project] Director will publicize the Challenge, develop the RFP [Requests for Proposals] and application criteria, host seminars to inform and assist schools through the process, select participating schools, establish working groups, oversee program evaluation, develop the metropolitan strategy, broker waivers and resources, and provide services for networks. In other words, the Collaborative is the place where the Challenge digs its deepest roots into the community and the schools – and it is the heart of the operational work.”

The co-chair of the CAC’s Collaborative from 1995 until 2000 was Bill Ayers. In 1997 Ayers was named Chicago's "Citizen of the Year" for his work on the CAC.

Thus, the leaders of the two operative arms of the CAC from its inception until 2000 were Bill Ayers and Barack Obama.

F. What Happened: The political battle that CAC put itself in

A review of the annual reports submitted to the Annenberg Foundation indicates the close working relationship between the Board and the Collaborative throughout its entire five-year life.

I. 1995

Some examples from the 1995-96 Program Report (prepared in May 1996) include the following:

1) The Collaborative developed the first RFP form for the CAC “which was widely circulated and they held a series of informational meetings throughout the city to acquaint public school staff, school reformers and potential ‘external partners’ with the mission and goals of the CAC."

2) In the first year, the Collaborative “read each of the letters-of-intent” at least three times and rated them and then made recommendations to the CAC board on the disposition of the applications.

3) The Collaborative and the Board worked together on a job description for CAC staff.

4) The Collaborative and the Board worked together on a “process for reviewing planning and implementation networks” which had received grants.

One critical project of the Collaborative and Board in 1996 demonstrates the closely aligned political views of the two operational arms of the CAC:

5) The Collaborative and the Board became direct players in the Chicago LSC elections held in 1996. According to the CAC Report:

“In 1996 the Chicago Public Schools were scheduled to hold the fourth election of Local School Council (LSC) representatives since the school reform of act [sic] of 1988 was passed. As in the past two elections support from the central office of the Chicago Public Schools appeared to be minimal.

"Until, that is, members of the Collaborative coalesced with school reform groups around the city and began to put pressure on the Chicago Public Schools’ central office to promote the elections both by recruiting enough candidates for the open seats so that contested elections would be held and by urging parents and community members to vote. Members of the CAC Collaborative began their work on the LSC elections in late Fall 1995.

"Part of their effort was to seek funding to support efforts at the school level to locate and elect active LSC members. The CAC board was asked in early 1996 to approve funds for a citywide coalition of local organizations who agreed to work on both candidate and voter turnout for the 1996 elections.”

The Board approved a grant of $125,000 for this effort.

6) One of the first grants awarded in 1995 was a $175,000 Implementation Grant to the Small Schools Workshop. The Workshop had been founded by Bill Ayers in 1992 and was headed up by his former Weather Underground comrade and hardcore Maoist, Mike Klonsky. Klonsky actually visited China and met with its stalinist leaders in the early 1970s. Klonsky still heads up the Small Schools Workshop and now hosts a blog on "social justice" and education issues on the official Barack Obama Presidential campaign website.

II. 1996

A second Program Report was filed for the period ending 12/31/1996. Among its relevant comments were the following that indicate the inherently political nature of the CAC Board and Collaborative’s activities:

The Collaborative (still co-chaired by Bill Ayers) and the CAC Staff (now headed by Ken Rolling) prepared an RFP for potential grantees for $2 million allocated by the Board (still chaired by Barack Obama) for “Leadership Development.” Its aim was “to make clear the connection between organizing a base of supporters for school reform with local schools, and a training program on educational issues to assist parents and community members participate in their schools.”

At the May 1996 Board meeting a proposed $2 million Leadership Development Initiative RFP was discussed. This program was a centerpiece of the CAC's early efforts aimed at supporting the recruitment and training of candidates and members of the controversial Local School Councils in Chicago. Barack Obama chaired the meeting. The minutes state:

“After some expression of concern for how the RFP and the Initiative itself would directly support the criteria used by the Challenge in its general grant program Chairman Obama volunteered to meet with representatives of the Collaborative to clarify the purpose of the RFP and to request another draft which would be more carefully tailored to meet the criteria and program of the Challenge.”

At the December 1996 Board meeting former Northwestern University president and business community representative Arnold Weber asked for clarification on a number of issues related to the Leadership Development Initiative RFP for $2 million. According to the Board minutes he was concerned about the relationship of this planned effort to recruit and train new leaders to the existing LSC structure. He also was concerned about the relationship between groups organized with CAC money to school principals. The minutes state: “Principals may view their presence as a political threat.” Barack Obama was absent from this meeting

III. 1997

Following the Board level discussion and then the Barack Obama-led discussion with the Collaborative, according to an Interim Report filed by Ken Rolling in October 1997:

“a new RFP [for Leadership Development] was issued in June 1997 to address the Challenge’s interest in organizing an informed constituency of parents and community residents who will actively support and participate in educational changes in their local schools. The RFP went through a number of revisions as both the Board and Collaborative discussed its goals and implementation….[The Initiative] is a critical aspect of the work of the Challenge as it seeks to increase not only numbers of parents and community residents who are actively engaged in changing their schools but also participants who are knowledgeable of promising and successful educational/academic practices in schools.”

Presumably this represented a compromise that Board Chair Obama was able to work out with the Bill Ayers-led Collaborative in the wake of the concerns raised by business community representative Arnold Weber about the CAC backed leaders becoming a “political threat.”

The annual report for 1997 made special mention of the surrounding political context of the CAC’s work. Director Ken Rolling noted that a goal of the CAC was “seeking a changed policy environment” but that this “has been the most elusive to date with no major progress to report at this time." He explained further:

“The Challenge began its work in 1995 at the same time a dramatic change in the leadership and management of the Chicago Public Schools took place. The Illinois state legislature awarded complete control of the…Schools to the Mayor of Chicago in 1995. A new management team and Reform Board of Trustees was installed and a major emphasis began on administration, financial stability and accountability measures that are tied to specific test scores. The Challenge began its program at the time the central administration of the public schools took off in a different direction.”

Indeed, the 1995 law gave the Mayor and the Board the power to dissolve LSC’s – the very bodies that the CAC was trying to bolster.

IV. 1998

The 1998 Annual Report notes that the Collaborative (still co-chaired by Ayers) “continued to meet throughout 1998 and provided advice and outreach” while its members “regularly participated in site visits and proposal reviews, assisted schools and their networks in developing leadership programs, and assisted in raising funds for the 1998 Local School Council elections to support a wide range of community organizations who worked to recruit both candidates and voters for the Spring 1998 elections.”

V. 1999

According to the Mid-Year Report for 1999 the $2 million for the Leadership Development Initiative was “now fully committed.” The funds “supported efforts to recruit candidates and build turnout for the [LSC] elections in both 1996 and 1998 and provide support” for efforts to improve the “academic life of local schools.”

By the end of this year Board member Arnold Weber would resign and Barack Obama would step down from the role of Board Chair as he anticipated an upcoming run for Congress.

VI. 2000

The CAC Interim Report for 2000 noted that the CAC was “completing funding of seven Leadership Development Initiative projects by June 30, 2001…focused on organizing parents and Local School Councils into more effective relationships with school personnel to affect curriculum and other academic changes in schools.”

Anticipating the end of the CAC the following year, the CAC was “also in the midst of creating a special fund to support future work of the [LSC’s] including ongoing training and development of [LSC] members as well as to assist in recruiting and electing members for the Councils in future years.”

G. The matching money: big corporations and foundations pitch in

A report on the matching funds raised by the CAC indicates that by the end of 1999 approximately $60 million had been raised from a wide range of corporations and foundations. Among the largest contributors were:

Bank of America $1.6 million

DeWitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund $3 million

IBM $2.3 million

Polk Bros. Foundation $6.8 million

Prince Charitable Trusts $1.1 million

Pritzker Foundation $100,000.00

MacArthur Foundation $17.1 million

Joyce Foundation $11 million

Woods Fund $1 million

H. What about the “bottom line”?

The CAC also funded a third arm, the Consortium of Chicago School Research (CCSR), in parallel with the two operational arms, the Board and the Collaborative. This arm was to conduct research on the impact of the CAC’s funding.

In 2003 the final technical report of the CCSR on the CAC was published. The results were not pretty. The “bottom line” according to the report was that the CAC did not achieve its goal of improvement in student academic achievement and nonacademic outcomes. While student test scores improved in the so-called Annenberg Schools that received some of the $150 million disbursed in the six years from 1995 to 2001,

“This was similar to improvement across the system….There were no statistically significant differences in student achievement between Annenberg schools and demographically similar non-Annenberg schools. This indicates that there was no Annenberg effect on achievement.”

The report identified the political conflict between the Local School Council promotion efforts of the CAC – such as the $2 million Leadership Development Initiative - as a possible factor hindering a positive impact on student achievement.

I. Conclusion: an academic failure but political success?

The Challenge allowed Barack Obama and Bill Ayers to work together, no doubt closely, in the heat of political battle to help disburse more than $100 million to allies, particularly in the LSCs, in the Chicago School system. Under the circumstances, it seems more than a bit disingenuous of Senator Obama to dismiss Bill Ayers as “some guy who lives in my neighborhood.”

link: http://globallabor.blogspot.com/2008/06/th...ighborhood.html

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Chicago Annenberg Challenge Shutdown?

A cover-up in the making?

By Stanley Kurtz

The problem of Barack Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers will not go away. Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn were terrorists for the notorious Weather Underground during the turbulent 1960s, turning fugitive when a bomb — designed to kill army officers in New Jersey — accidentally exploded in a New York townhouse. Prior to that, Ayers and his cohorts succeeded in bombing the Pentagon. Ayers and Dohrn remain unrepentant for their terrorist past. Ayers was pictured in a 2001 article for Chicago magazine, stomping on an American flag, and told the New York Times just before 9/11 that the notion of the United States as a just and fair and decent place “makes me want to puke.” Although Obama actually launched his political career at an event at Ayers’s and Dohrn’s home, Obama has dismissed Ayers as just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood,” and “not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.” For his part, Ayers refuses to discuss his relationship with Obama.

Although the press has been notably lax about pursuing the matter, the full story of the Obama-Ayers relationship calls the truth of Obama’s account seriously into question. When Obama made his first run for political office, articles in both the Chicago Defender and the Hyde Park Herald featured among his qualifications his position as chairman of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a foundation where Ayers was a founder and guiding force. Obama assumed the Annenberg board chairmanship only months before his first run for office, and almost certainly received the job at the behest of Bill Ayers. During Obama’s time as Annenberg board chairman, Ayers’s own education projects received substantial funding. Indeed, during its first year, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge struggled with significant concerns about possible conflicts of interest. With a writ to aid Chicago’s public schools, the Annenberg challenge played a deeply political role in Chicago’s education wars, and as Annenberg board chairman, Obama clearly aligned himself with Ayers’s radical views on education issues. With Obama heading up the board and Ayers heading up the other key operating body of the Annenberg Challenge, the two would necessarily have had a close working relationship for years (therefore “exchanging ideas on a regular basis”). So when Ayers and Dorhn hosted that kickoff for the first Obama campaign, it was not a random happenstance, but merely further evidence of a close and ongoing political partnership. Of course, all of this clearly contradicts Obama’s dismissal of the significance of his relationship with Ayers.

This much we know from the public record, but a large cache of documents housed in the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), is likely to flesh out the story. That document cache contains the internal files of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. The records in question are extensive, consisting of 132 boxes, containing 947 file folders, a total of about 70 linear feet of material. Not only would these files illuminate the working relationship between Obama and Bill Ayers, they would also provide significant insight into a web of ties linking Obama to various radical organizations, including Obama-approved foundation gifts to political allies. Obama’s leadership style and abilities are also sure to be illuminated by the documents in question.


Unfortunately, I don’t yet have access to the documents. The Special Collections section of the Richard J. Daley Library agreed to let me read them, but just before I boarded my flight to Chicago, the top library officials mysteriously intervened to bar access. Circumstances strongly suggest the likelihood that Bill Ayers himself may have played a pivotal role in this denial. Ayers has long taught at UIC, where the Chicago Annenberg Challenge offices were housed, rent-free. Ayers likely arranged for the files of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge to be housed in the UIC library, and may well have been consulted during my unsuccessful struggle to gain access to the documents. Let me, then, explain in greater detail what the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) records are, and how I have been blocked from seeing them.

Initially, as I said, library officials said that I could examine the CAC records. I received this permission both over the phone and in writing. The subsequent denial of access came with a series of evolving explanations. Is this a politically motivated cover-up? Although at this stage it is impossible to know, it is hard to avoid the suspicion. I also have some concerns for the security of the documents, although I have no specific evidence that their security is endangered. In any case, given the relative dearth of information about Barack Obama’s political past, there is a powerful public interest in the swift release of these documents.


When I learned that the CAC records were housed at UIC Library, I phoned and was assured by a reference librarian that, although I have no UIC affiliation, I would be permitted to examine the records. He suggested I phone the Special Collections section of the library and set up an appointment with a special collections librarian. This reference librarian also ran a search for me and discovered that, in addition to the CAC records, one file folder in the UIC Chancellor’s Office of Community Relations archive contains information on CAC from 1995.

I then spoke with a special-collections librarian and was again assured that I would have access to the CAC records. I was told that, while I could not personally make copies of the material, I could identify documents of interest and have copies made by the library, for a fee. I set up an appointment to meet with the special-collections librarian, and she suggested that I e-mail her the information on the CAC-related chancellor’s documents the reference librarian had discovered, and confirm my appointment time. After I did so, this special-collections librarian forwarded my message to a graduate assistant.

The graduate assistant then e-mailed to let me know that, while the CAC collection had been “processed,” the “finding aid” had not yet been put online. (The “finding aid” is a detailed document of over 60 pages specifying the topics covered by each of the 947 folders in the collection, and showing which boxes hold which folders.) Because the finding aid was not yet online, the graduate assistant attached a copy to her e-mail, inviting me to browse it and identify documents of particular interest, so that the library could have some of the CAC material out and ready for me immediately upon my arrival. I wrote back indicating that I would like to see the single CAC-related folder from the chancellor’s archive, and further identifying 14 boxes from the main body of CAC records containing folders of special interest. Having received clear and repeated representations from the UIC library staff that I would be granted access to the CAC records, I arranged a trip to Chicago.


What follows is more detail than some readers may want to know, but it seems important to get it on record. If a body of material potentially damaging to Barack Obama is being improperly embargoed by a library, the details matter.

Just before my plane took off, I received an e-mail from the special-collections librarian informing me that she had “checked our collection file” and determined that “access to the collection is closed.” I would be permitted to view the single CAC-related file from the Office of the Chancellor records, but nothing from the CAC records proper. I quickly wrote back, expressing surprise and disappointment. I noted that I had arranged my trip based on the library’s assurances of access, and followed up with questions about whether access was being denied because I was unaffiliated with UIC. I also asked who had authority over access to the collection, suggesting that I might be able to contact them and request permission to view it.

After arriving in Chicago, I found a message, not from the special-collections librarian, but from Ann C. Weller, professor and head, Special Collections Department. In answer to my question of who had authority over access to the collection, Weller said, that “the decision was made by me” in consultation with the library director. Weller stated that no one currently has access to the collection and added that: “The Collection is closed because it has come to our attention that there is restricted material in the collection. Once the collection has been processed it will be open to any patron interested in viewing it.”

I responded to Weller by recounting the clear and repeated representations I had received from library staff that I would be granted access to the collection, adding that I had arranged my trip in large part because of these assurances. I then noted that I had studied the CAC finding aid with considerable care. It was clear from that finding aid, I said, that only five out of the 947 folders were in any way restricted. Four folders, containing auditor’s reports, where clearly marked, in bold type, “THESE FOLDERS ARE RESTRICTED VIA ANNENBERG CHALLENGE until further notice.” A fifth folder, containing records of eight CAC Board of Directors meetings in 1995, when CAC was first set up, had a notation nearby with the word, “Consent.” It would be a simple matter, I said, to pull these five folders, allow me access to the remaining 942 folders, and contact the relevant authority for consent to view the records of the 1995 board meetings. After all, I added, Weller herself had said that, other than the restricted folders, the collection ought to be open to all patrons.

I also pointed out to Weller that she had not quite entirely answered my earlier question about who has authority over access to the collection. So I asked who, precisely, holds the authority to bar or permit access to the restricted folders. I added the following thought: “Libraries, of course, exist, not to restrict information, but to make it available to the public. I would hate to think that UIC library was doing anything less than all it could to permit public access to these important materials.”

Weller replied to this message by dropping the restricted documents issue and saying instead that the donor of the CAC records “has alerted us to the fact that we do not have a signed deed of gift.” According to Weller, this means that UIC’s library has no legal right to make the material available. The donor, said Weller, is now working with UIC library to resolve the problem, and “we hope to be able to provide access within the next few weeks.”

Replying to Weller, I briefly noted some elements of her account that I found puzzling. I added that Weller had still not answered my question about who the donor is, and/or who holds controlling authority over the collection. I closed by alerting the library to my intention to come in that day to examine the single CAC-related folder from the chancellor’s records that I did have permission to see. Later that day, I examined that one folder, took notes, and asked for the entire folder’s contents to be copied and mailed to me. I have received no further reply to my reiterated question about the identity of the donor.


There are a number of disturbing elements to this story. Recall that, according to the graduate assistant, the collection had, in fact, already been “processed.” Yet Weller’s initial message to me used the unprocessed state of the collection as a reason for restricting access. And when I pointed out how easy it would be to remove the restricted files, Weller quickly came up with yet another reason to block access. At the moment, I have no way of verifying Weller’s claim that the library has no signed deed of gift, but how likely is it that a collection of such size and importance would have been housed in the library, and listed in publicly accessible international library catalogues, without this very basic detail having been attended to? It’s also puzzling that UIC now raises the absence of any formal agreement with the donor — and thus the absence of any formal restrictions by the donor — as a reason to deny access to a collection placed in library custody precisely to facilitate public access.

The question of who the donor is and/or who holds formal authority over access to the collection, is also critical. It’s notable that after trying to ascertain this information several times, I have still not received a proper reply. One obvious question is whether Bill Ayers and perhaps even Barack Obama himself may be connected to the donor. Obama began his CAC board chairmanship in early 1995, and stepped down from the chairmanship in late 1999, though he remained on the board until CAC phased itself out of existence in 2001. At that time, CAC handed over its remaining assets to a permanent new institution, the Chicago Public Education Fund. Obama served on this Fund’s “Leadership Council,” from 2001 through 2004, overlapping with council service by Bill Ayers’s father, Thomas, and Ayers’s brother, John. Bill Ayers, as noted, was a CAC founder, its guiding force, and co-chaired CAC’s powerful “collaborative.” CAC appears to have been housed at UIC because of Ayers’s connection to the school.

So informally, and perhaps formally, it would appear that both Ayers and Obama may be closely connected to the donor of the CAC records. In fact, Ayers himself may be the donor. In raising her belated point about the absence of a signed deed of gift, Ann Weller indicated that she had been alerted to the fact by the donor, and would henceforth be working with the donor to provide access “within the next few weeks.” One can at least speculate that Weller might have been in touch with her UIC colleague, Bill Ayers, either because he actually holds formal authority as donor, or because he is granted de facto authority over the papers by whatever entity has formal control. One can also speculate that, as former CAC board chair, board member, and as an official of CAC’s successor organization, Barack Obama himself might have had, or may still have, some sort of formal or informal role in this process. Could this help explain why I have never received a clear answer to my question about the identity of the donor?


I expect to follow up this piece with an examination of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and what it suggests about Obama’s personal, financial, and ideological ties with Bill Ayers. I will also discuss what Obama’s CAC connection might suggest about Obama’s links to various radical groups, about the political character of his service at various foundations, and about his leadership record. I treated some of these issues in “Inside Obama’s Acorn,” and have just explored them, using new material, in an article in the current issue of National Review, entitled “Senator Stealth.” Further information on the Obama-Ayers connection can be found in “Barack Obama’s Lost Years.” Of course there is no substitute for access to the CAC records, but at over 60 pages, the extremely detailed “finding aid” to the CAC records by itself provides important new information that helps extend our understanding of Obama’s political past. I will shortly have more to say about what the finding aid reveals. And while there were no major revelations in it, the contents of the folder from the chancellor’s archive are also of some interest.

We already know a good deal about Obama’s service at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. That information paints a disturbing picture, and one sharply at odds with Obama’s claim that Bill Ayers was just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood.” A number of bloggers, including, for example, Tom Maguire, at Just One Minute, have done excellent work on the CAC issue. (See here and here.) But the key reporting on the Obama-Ayers connection via the Chicago Annenberg Challenge has been done by Steve Diamond, at Global Labor and Politics. (See especially this important post of June 18, 2008.) Sad to say, the mainstream media has almost entirely ignored the issues so powerfully raised by Diamond, and discussed at length by various bloggers, even though Obama’s service at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge raises serious questions about the veracity of his account of his relationship with Ayers. Access to the CAC records promises to provide a treasure trove of documentary evidence fronting on this and many other critically important issues, from Obama’s policy views, to his political-ideological alliances, to his leadership abilities.


There will be time for substantive discussion later. The immediate concern is to swiftly gain public access to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records, and to ensure the security of these documents in the meantime. Despite UIC library’s claim that it hopes to be able to provide access within the next few weeks, the apparently shifting and contradictory character of their reasons for denying access have left me with a low level of confidence in these assurances.

I intend to continue my efforts to examine the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records, to take notes, and to order extensive photocopies, to be mailed to me and/or received personally by me, in a timely fashion. I call on the UIC library to take extraordinary steps to secure the documents until such time as this issue is resolved. The public needs clear assurances that none of the CAC records have been, or will be, damaged or removed. I call on UIC library to reveal the name of the donor of the CAC records and/or to specify the person, persons, or body that currently hold authority over these records. I also call on Barack Obama to voice support for the swift release of these records.

Libraries are designed, not to unduly restrict information, but to make it available to an interested public. This country is now mere months away from a momentous presidential election in which a central issue is the political background and character of a relatively young and unknown senator. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge records almost surely contain important information on Senator Obama’s political associations, policy views, ideological leanings, and leadership ability. His role as board chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge is the most important executive experience Obama has held to date. Given this, the public has an urgent right to know what is in the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records.

If you agree, then please write to the president of the University of Illinois system, B. Joseph White. Ask him to take immediate public steps to insure the safety of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records, to release the identity of the Collection’s donor, and above all to swiftly make the Collection available to me, and to the public at large. You can find an email link for White here. Telephone, fax, and mailing addresses for White’s offices can be found here.

— Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

link: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MTgwZ...NDM=&w=Mg==

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Where oh where is Barry's EMT squad when he needs them?

Must be too busy picking nits.

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August 21, 2008

More on the Annenberg Challenge

Ed Lasky

The Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Barack Obama's only claim to administrative leadership (as covered today by Thomas Lifson), was evaluated by the esteemed Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an independent outside body with expertise on educational reform. A larger study has a section focused on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Obama's project.

It does not take much for grantees who receive funds from the Obama-Ayers led Anneberg Chicago effort to sing its praises. When an outside group audits the performance and reveals scores of millions of dollars were all but wasted, I think that should have some bearing on our evaluation of Obama as a leader of change efforts.

No wonder the Obama campaign is engaging in an extraordinary level of secrecy regarding Obama's track record as State Senator (his written records unavailable), lawyer (no list of his clients available) and leader of the failed effort to reform public schooling in Chicago.

I suspect that in his Annenberg work, Obama used his power over the purse strings as a form of pork to reward insiders and allies. Neighborhood control of schools was one of the approaches he took -- a fertile ground for rewarding local allies and political powers-that-be. Also, as was already shown by the history of such approaches in New York City, the concept of more local input might be fine in theory,but in practice often results in localized civil wars-not to the improvement of local schools.

David Hinz noted the Fordham Study and offered some interesting commentary

According to a piece done by Alexander Russo for the Thomas B Fordham Institute:

When three of Chicago's most prominent education reform leaders met for lunch at a Thai restaurant six years ago to discuss the just-announced $500 million Annenberg Challenge, their main goal was to figure out how to ensure that any Annenberg money awarded to Chicago "didn't go down the drain," said William Ayers, a professor of education at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Ayers, who was at that lunch table in late 1993, helped write the successful Chicago grant application.

Educators and administrators are ebullient in their praise for the program. It has been an unambiguous success, according to their testimonials. Again, from the Fordham Institute article:

Anecdotally, there is a strong sense of progress and achievement among those closely involved with the Challenge. "There are more and more schools improving the quality of education" as a result of the Chicago Challenge, said Peter Martinez, a senior program officer at the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, who has worked closely with the Challenge. "There are more and more good staff development programs, as opposed to half-baked efforts. Overall, there's more movement in this system now than there has ever been."

Others, such as William Ayers of the University of Illinois, paint a similarly positive picture. Ayers said the Chicago Challenge has done an "astonishingly good job" in several key areas. For example, it has "raised for public debate systemwide the issues of school size, professionalizing teaching, and the relationships between communities and their schools." Ayers also believes that the Annenberg Challenge has demonstrated the power of networks to create a sense of community among schools grappling with similar issues.

But, while those who have benefited monetarily from the grants have enthusiastically praised it, there is little evidence to show that the program his enjoyed any actual success.

Beyond testimonials from those associated with the Challenge, however, it becomes difficult to find conclusive indications of the program's impact. Outside of anecdotal examples, few of the networks contacted were able to distinguish clearly what specific role Annenberg funds had played in their effectiveness, and none of the networks contacted could supply research that attributes student-achievement gains to Annenberg funding.


Therein lies the problem. While few connected with them doubt the value of the programs supported by the Chicago Challenge, their impact is not yet established. This lack of hard evaluation data on the effectiveness of the Challenge is a source of widespread frustration in a city where test scores have increasingly become the coin of the realm. "We don't have a lot to tell you," admitted University of Illinois professor Mark Smylie, who is principal investigator for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge Study being conducted by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. The Challenge is "a difficult thing to evaluate," he explained. "None of these Challenges reflects a tightly designed programmatic initiative that renders itself useful to traditional evaluation."

While those closely associated with the challenge are certain that it is having a positive impact on the schools, there is no actual evidence to prove it.

So, what we have, is multi-million dollar educational boondoggle, being run by Ayres. What, you might be asking, does this have to do with Barack Obama? Thank you for asking.

Ayres, and the other founders of the Annenberg Challenge chose Barack Obama to be the first Chairman of the Board for the new program. Barack Obama, whose relationship to Ayres was "flimsy at best" worked directly for Ayres for eight years. This would seem to be more than just a casual relationship.

link: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/0...g_challeng.html

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UIC library reverses course on Obama documents

Annenberg Challenge information will be released Tuesday

Tribune staff report

9:17 PM CDT, August 22, 2008

Documents related to U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's service for a nonprofit education project started by former 1960s radical William Ayers will be released Tuesday from an archive at the University of Illinois at Chicago library, the university announced.

UIC said Friday it will make public its archive of documents from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge in the library's Special Collections Department. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was formed in 1995 to fund education reform initiatives in the city.

The university's Richard J. Daley Library had refused to release records of the project, which had put Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in contact with Ayers, who now is an education professor in Chicago.

The university said it had determined after an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the gift that it has legal authority to allow public access.

link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/c...0,6077865.story

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Now that the Chicago dimocrats have had time to go through the documents:

UIC library reverses course on Obama documents

What you want to bet they don't find anything?

If fact I would be willing to bet Geraldo Rivera found more in Al Capone's Vault than they will find about Obama in the university's Richard J. Daley Library.

Chicago politics at it's finest. And Obama is the torch bearer.

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Now that the Chicago dimocrats have had time to go through the documents:

UIC library reverses course on Obama documents

What you want to bet they don't find anything?

If fact I would be willing to bet Geraldo Rivera found more in Al Capone's Vault than they will find about Obama in the university's Richard J. Daley Library.

Chicago politics at it's finest. And Obama is the torch bearer.

Shredders are what they are. :whistle:

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They got a real good deal from the Clintons after they were through with theirs from the Whitewater Days.

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Kind of like the Bush administration "losing" 200 days of e-mails?

You guys want to link Obama to some 1960's radical. Why aren't you pissed off at the Bush administration's constant cover up on; the reasons for the Iraq war,

outing a CIA Agent(treason)

illegle survalliance

violations of the United States Constitution

Alberto Gonzalez's many cover ups

changing scientific data to fit their own policy

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Kind of like the Bush administration "losing" 200 days of e-mails?

You guys want to link Obama to some 1960's radical. Why aren't you pissed off at the Bush administration's constant cover up on; the reasons for the Iraq war,

outing a CIA Agent(treason)

illegle survalliance

violations of the United States Constitution

Alberto Gonzalez's many cover ups

changing scientific data to fit their own policy

Can you spare a brother a few links? :)

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Kind of like the BushClinton Administration "losing" billing records for 5+ years?

You guys want to link Obama Bush to every conceivable evil in the world.

Why weren't you pissed off at the BushClinton Administration's constant cover up on; personal financial shenanigans, sexual harassment, lying to the American Public, "Define what is 'is.'"

basically giving away W-88 technology to the Chinese Govt(treason)

illegal use of the FBI and IRS to deal with outsiders and enemies

violations of the United States Constitution (FILEGATE)

changing scientific data to fit their own policy Gore and Global Warming

One man's blindness is another man's rationalization.

Politics aint pretty in America anymore.

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Kind of like the Bush administration "losing" 200 days of e-mails?

You guys want to link Obama to some 1960's radical. Why aren't you pissed off at the Bush administration's constant cover up on; the reasons for the Iraq war,

outing a CIA Agent(treason)

illegle survalliance

violations of the United States Constitution

Alberto Gonzalez's many cover ups

changing scientific data to fit their own policy

I'm happy the Iraq war occurred. We snuffed a real badass dictator that needed it. It wasn't pretty. But as wars against psychopathic dictators go, this one has been VERY inexpensive. Nicely done by Bushco.

Outing a CIA agent. This is amazingly obtuse. Incredible.

"Illegle survalliance" Not really certain what you mean by that, but if my guess that you meant "illegal surveillance" then please tell me exactly WHO was the victim of this and when it occurred.

Violations of the US Constitution? When? Where? Who is the victim? Specifically. Don't do us like the Gore campaign in the 2000 election cycle. "A pattern of denial of franchise by using the police to set up intimdation roadblocks."

Alberto Gonzalez. Are you sure about this?

Changing scientific data. Hmmm. Are you sure about this? Because if you want to talk about changing scientific data for political purposes then let's discuss groundwater arsenic and Bill Clinton.

You left out victimization of all those extra-terrestrial lifeforms that Cheney has kept locked away in the secret gulag in Nevada since 1951. I heard he personally waterboarded several of them to find out info about Rezko and why millionaire Obama doesn't help his poverty-stricken brother in Africa. Never mind...it's not close enough to the election yet.

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