When U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan ran Chicago Public Schools, his office quietly kept a log of elected officials and others seeking to help kids win admission to the most coveted schools in the system, a former top Duncan aide said Monday.
That list has now come under the scrutiny of both federal officials and the schools inspector general as part of a probe of whether clout played a role in admissions to Chicago's elite schools, sources said.
Calls listed on the annual "logs'' included anyone who contacted the schools CEO's office seeking help in placing a student, such as a parent concerned about their child's safety, said David Pickens, who was a top assistant to Duncan and is now chief of staff to the president of the Board of Education.
But the logs also held the names of elected officials, "a lot of aldermen,'' businessmen, local school council members and Board of Education employees who wanted to get kids into selective enrollment or magnet schools, Pickens said.
One year's log, for example, lists a state senator, a former U.S. senator and a top official in Mayor Daley's administration, sources told the Sun-Times.
I doubt this particular revelation will do Duncan in, but if they keep digging...
Meanwhile, here in NY, I don't see why Malcolm Smith isn't in jail yet:
The phalanx of drab trailers ringed by a chain-link fence in a desolate corner of Queens looks more like a prison than a charter school.
The cramped Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School has no science lab, no gymnasium, no playground and no on-site kitchen. Hot meals are trucked in from 3 miles away, and the school's 300 students dodge cars just to reach the front door.
Only two years ago, the charter school founded by Senate President Malcolm Smith was housed inside a spacious public school 3 miles away in Far Rockaway.
The official reason for the relocation was "increased enrollment" - but the Daily News has learned Peninsula Preparatory Academy was moved to land owned and under development by one of Smith's top campaign donors.
Queens developer Benjamin Companies is in a partnership building homes near the school - and started using Peninsula as a selling point to hawk the seaside residences.
While the move may benefit the developer, it certainly didn't help students wedged inside the too-small trailers - with no end in sight.
Smith says the school moving to the current prison-like location had nothing to do with the land it's on being owned by a political donor/real estate developer.
Sure it doesn't.
And Duncan's office says Duncan wasn't using the log of elected officials and other important contacts as a way of keeping track of/handing out political favors.
Sure he wasn't.