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The [Thursday] Papers

"According to multiple sources at Chicago Public Schools, [GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce] Rauner in 2008 picked up the phone and called [then-CPS CEO Arne] Duncan on behalf of his daughter, who was trying to get into Payton [College Prep]," Greg Hinz reports for Crain's.

"There only was one problem, the sources say: Her test scores, academic record and other factors weren't good enough to get her into Payton.

"According to a report by CPS Inspector General James Sullivan that has not been released to the public, the younger Ms. Rauner had good scores, very good scores. But not quite good enough. Her application was denied. So dad called Mr. Duncan, a Duncan aide called the Payton principal and she was admitted, graduating last June."

Great story. But guess what? It's backwards. If true, the story really ought to be about Duncan. After all, he's the U.S. Secretary of Education. And he's been caught cheating. Rauner is just a two-bit hustler on a pretend "listening tour" as he "explores" a run for governor in which he's likely to spend millions and not come close to even getting out of the primary.

The tale told here - and it sounds awfully familiar to what we already know - is that clout admissions seem to have been a standard way of doing business under Duncan. How does he square that with his testing and standards rhetoric?


"A spokesman for Mr. Duncan says he 'doesn't recall' any such conversation," Hinz reports.

That is what we call in the business a non-denial denial. Duncan can't just deny the allegation outright - and notice that he doesn't - because there are witnesses and other participants. (Note that Rauner also doesn't deny the charge.)

Duncan is also dodging - you don't just leave such an explosive charge up to a spokesperson to answer.

I'm sure Duncan has been busy with his advisors crafting a "better" response in which, oh, he just passed along the name of Rauner's daughter, you know, all innocent-like. He knows better - and we do too.

"Mayor Richard Daley called it 'unacceptable' Friday for his nephew to contact Chicago Public Schools on behalf of a politically active neighbor who wanted to get his daughters into an elite high school," the Tribune reported in 2010.

"The mayor's criticism and call for changes in enrollment policies came just hours before the CPS aide who maintained admissions-related VIP lists resigned his post.

"David Pickens quit Friday following a series of Tribune reports in which he confirmed that he kept the logs at the request of then-schools chief Arne Duncan, who is now the U.S. secretary of education.

"The Tribune revealed earlier this week that Duncan ordered admissions requests tracked over several years, creating a lengthy and detailed compilation of politicians and influential business people who intervened on behalf of children during his tenure."

Here's how Duncan handled that revelation:

"Through a spokesman, Duncan declined to comment."

A spokesman did spin a doozy for the New York Times, though: Duncan was trying to reduce clout by maintaining a clout list, as I went into here at the time. (That claim is easily blown away here as well.)

Now, one might ask why the story, then, should really be about Duncan when the new player is Rauner. Because Hinz has Duncan directing an aide - that's the inference, anyway - to call Payton and get the kid admitted; previous alibi about absorbing clout calls to keep pressure off principals quashed. (And don't try to tell us, Arne, that you merely asked for a second look or review of the Rauner application; everyone knows what that means in this town.)

As for Rauner, what is most disgusting is the fact that his daughter could have gone to New Trier; the family lived in Winnetka (which explains the curious recent revelation that Rauner also claimed a home exemption in Chicago, apparently - we know now - to qualify his kid for a city school.)


Clout is a cradle-to-grave welfare program in these parts.

Our elites will always take care of themselves, even as they scold those left behind for, oh, say, their inability to parent.

See also:
* The Lottery

* Harvard Legacy Admit Rate At 30 Percent
* Legacy Admissions Favor Wealth Over Merit


President Obama ought to be asked about the actions of his education secretary. Does he find clouting kids into schools acceptable? Just the way it is? In line with administration policy?


Since Hinz seems to have good CPS sources, I wonder if they could actually find the person who lost their spot at Payton to Rauner's kid.

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