When Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, was chief executive of the Chicago Public Schools, his office kept a log of nearly 40 pages listing the local politicians and business people and others who sought help getting children into the city’s most selective public schools.
According to an article Tuesday in The Chicago Tribune, which first obtained and reported on the confidential log, those who sought such help included 25 aldermen, Mayor Richard M. Daley’s office, the State House speaker, the state attorney general, the former White House social secretary and a former United States senator.
A spokesman for the Department of Education said Tuesday that the log was a record of those who asked for help, and that neither Mr. Duncan nor the aide who maintained the list, David Pickens, ever pressured principals to accept a child. Rather, he said, the creation of the list was an effort to reduce pressure on principals.
“Arne Duncan asked David Pickens to respond to all of these requests, some of which came from him, some from lots of other people, as a way to try to manage a process that was putting a lot of pressure on principals,” said Peter Cunningham, who handled communications for Mr. Duncan in Chicago and is now assistant secretary of the Department of Education.
“This was an attempt to buffer principals from all the outside pressure, to get our arms around something that was burdensome to them. It was always up to the principal to make the decision. Arne never ever picked up the phone.”
Yep, I “believe” it too – do you?