sponsored by

Ed Secretary Duncan faces questions on admissions

Send a link to a friend

[March 25, 2010]  CHICAGO (AP) -- Revelations that President Barack Obama's top education official kept a log of calls from powerful people trying to get students into top Chicago high schools when he ran the massive district have raised new questions about the city's admissions practices.

Still, observers said Wednesday, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan's political standing probably will not suffer unless it is determined he or his office pressured school authorities to admit specific students during his tenure.

"I would think that obviously you want to rule out the possibility of anyone acting to unduly influence admissions," said William Trent, an education professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "That's the bottom-line question."

The Chicago Tribune reported this week that Duncan's office had kept the log, which included calls from politicians and businesspeople.

A current spokesman for Duncan, who headed the nation's third-largest school district from 2001 to 2009, told the Tribune that Duncan's CPS office never applied pressure on schools or told them to consider one student over another.

"It's just a way to manage the information," Peter Cunningham said of the log.

School officials say the log tracked requests, but many students still weren't admitted.

University of Illinois at Chicago political science professor Dick Simpson said he didn't immediately see a risk that the matter would grow into a full-blown scandal.

"It doesn't sound like it's going to reach that level," Simpson said. "If they just kept a log, that's fine."

CPS Inspector General James Sullivan has been investigating admissions practices for months amid complaints the system is confusing and rigged in favor of clout-heavy Chicago residents. Several messages left Wednesday for Sullivan were not returned.

[to top of second column]

CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond couldn't say whether the log was a target of the investigation. But she did say the district has implemented tougher guidelines in recent weeks in a bid to ensure there's no favoritism in the application process.

Illinois' reputation for corruption, including a host of charges against ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- including allegations he tried to sell or trade an appointment to Obama's former U.S. Senate seat -- make it all the more important to be sure political clout hasn't played a role in education, Trent said.

"Any place with a checkered history like Illinois puts this in a certain context," he said.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Nursing Homes


< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor