Friday, August 7, 2009

Nepotism 101 (Adv. Placement) to be offered to elite in Chicago High Schools.

College is a wonderful time in a person's life, a time when we learn more than Freudian Psychology or 17th Century English Lit. We learn valuable life lessons on how the world works, and on what it takes to succeed in today's "rat race".

University of Illinois students are getting an extra special lesson on how the world works...can you say "Nepotism", boys and girls?

Recent investigations into Univ of IL admissions found that school trustees and admission officials at the schools routinely maintained a list of "well-connected" applicants, and often admitted these "Clout List" students instead of more qualified applicants. Additionally, trustees often pressured other members to comply with their politically motivated admissions.
From the Huffington Post
"CHICAGO — A panel investigating the role that clout played in University of Illinois admissions recommended in its final report released on Thursday that all trustees voluntarily submit their resignations and let Gov. Pat Quinn decide which ones to accept.

In a scathing 45-page report, the Illinois Admissions Review Commission found unqualified students were admitted because of political connections, and recommended that any new trustees conduct a review of the university's president, the chancellor of the Champaign campus and other administrators."

That's right, the corruption went all the way to the top. University of Illinois has apparently been teaching students that 'it's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you know'.

But in an attempt to bring college level learning to advanced high school students, it appears that same lesson is being taught to Chicago high school students. A Federal grand jury investigation into a school district policy allowing principals to "hand-pick" up to 5% of their admitted students seeks to discover if political connections may be playing a role in the principals' selections.

From the Chicago Sun Times
"A federal grand jury is investigating whether any “public officials’’ lobbied to get kids into the city’s most elite public high schools through new powers that allow principals to handpick five percent of their freshmen seats, a subpoena released Thursday suggests. ...
Its release follows Chicago Sun-Times disclosures that Chicago School Board President Michael Scott also has been called before a federal grand jury.

Chicago Public school officials revealed last month that they asked the Schools Inspector General to investigate the student admissions process at the system’s elite selective enrollment high schools after determining that policies may have been violated. After that announcement, the existence of a federal probe emerged.
Principals of magnet schools that choose most kids using a race-based lottery have long been allowed to handpick five percent of their students — and critics have questioned whether clout or money have influenced such selections. But last school year, for the first time, those “principal pick’’ powers were extended to the principals of the city’s selective enrollment college prep high schools, which use mostly test scores and grades to admit students.",chicago-public-schools-investigation-080609.article

We will have to wait and see what the federal probe reveals, but it'll be no shocker if "Clout List" admissions were going on in Chicago high schools as well. The Chicago School Board President, Michael Scott is a well connected friend of Mayor Richard Daley and is no stranger to the ways of political nepotism.
A recent Chicago Tribune investigation revealed that Scott may be using his ties to Mayor Daley (and his former role on Mayor Daley's Olympics Commitee) to purchase taxpayer land located directly adjacent to the city's proposed Olympic venues and develop it into retail properties. Though the land is allotted for public or affordable housing and is sold at $1 per plot for builders of such projects, Michael Scott may be getting the sweet deal price despite his intention to use the land for retail development (including a Nike store). Additionally, as an early member of the Olympics committee, Scott may have influenced the placement of proposed Olympic venues to take advantage of political connections, convincing local aldermen to set aside lots for Scott to purchase and develop. Scott stands to profit significantly when the low value lots shoot up in value as the Olympics related development dramatically increases property values. A little news on Michael Scott...
From the Chicago Tribune
"He (Scott) was criticized in 1990 for his insider connections when he left his job as city government's chief cable administrator to go work for a cable company.

Earlier this year, Scott's roles as school board president and as a member of the city's Olympic committee stirred controversy.

In May, he asked all of the city's school principals to form plans to promote the Olympics. Teachers and union officials said Scott's tactics were heavy-handed and they feared retaliation if they did not support Daley's quest for the Games.",0,4603832.story

Michael Scott claims no wrong doing, although one wonders how many federal investigations into allegations of political favoritism one can be involved in and still viably claim the appearance of innocence. He is clearly a well oiled cog in the infamous Chicago Machine.

And a fine example to the students of Illinois.

So here's your vocab lesson for the day, kids.

Nepotism - (noun) - the showing of favoritism for relatives or friends based upon that relationship, rather than on an objective evaluation of ability or suitability, for instance by offering employment to a relative, despite the fact that there are others who are better qualified and willing and able to perform the job. syn. cronyism

Or as I call it, Chicago style politics.


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