I've been pretty quiet about Obama's address to students. On the one hand, I do think a lot of people are investing way too much fury and emotion in this, because Obama now realizes that people don't trust him to talk to school kids, and I'm guessing he'll deliver a completely apolitical speech that will leave everyone who panicked looking silly.But I've been surprised at what I haven't heard anyone talk about: Arne Duncan, Barack Obama's Secretary of Education, and Chicago. If you wanted a reason to be worried about Barack Obama addressing schoolchildren in school, Arne Duncan would be the best one. Duncan spent years as the Superintendent of Chicago public schools, and I talked about his record of using Chicago public school students, buses, money and school days to hold political rallies and stump for legislation, both in Chicago and Springfield:
Use . . . your children well
"As a school teacher, I wanted to write an angry rant about this, but what can I say that would embarrass people who haven't resigned after finding out that 49% of their students drop out before graduation? Arne Duncan is a fool, but he doesn't seem to mind being a fool. He appears to have embraced his inner fool, if you will. Chicago's schools have been giving kids the day off from school on the condition that they accept a free bus ride to an anti-gun protest (and protest on the desired side, of course) for years. Now they're going to bus them down to Springfield, on a school day, for the same purpose. . . . "
I can't believe this hasn't been widely discussed--if people were calling me a paranoid, crazy racist for thinking Barack Obama might try to score political points using school children, I'd want to know their opinion of Obama's Secretary of Education using his district budget to pay for busing students 175 miles to the state capital to demand money for his schools . . . to say nothing of gun control laws. I couldn't believe people weren't outraged at the time . . . but that's where we are, I suppose.
"The Chicago Way: Students are political pawns"It just doesn't make sense to me that nobody seems to be making this connection.
Well, they did it. They bused in CPS students--the original article said 1,200 district buses would be used--to fill Soldier Field. They hired a rapper from Chicago (Ben One--never heard of him) and painted empty chairs to sit at midfield and stand for the 26 "CPS students" who've been killed this year, because as everyone knows, those people were killed by a lack of state funds and state-level gun control. Then they lined up Mayor Daley, Jesse Jackson, and the all the usual suspects (including Arne Duncan, the CPS Superintendent) and let them harangue the captive audience.
In this case, the students have the power to come together and speak out--but only as long as they stay on Daley's carefully-scripted message. More state money for a district that spends money hiring rappers for rallies for more state money. More gun-control laws to cure violence in the city with the strictest gun control laws in the nation (well, after Heller v. D.C. is decided) and the highest rates of violence to go with it.
Go along with this program, use your political power in approved ways, and you get a free bus ride to Soldier Field to listen to minor music stars--as long as you look respectful during the political harangues.