Obama Campaign Uses Sun Times to Begin Retreat on Ayers Issue

Perhaps realizing that there is no hope on the Ayers issue, the Obama campaign began its strategic retreat today. They trotted out a local ally in the Chicago school wars, Linda Lenz, to begin the effort. Her job: admit finally that, in fact, there was some kind of relationship between Ayers and Obama after all but “it ain’t no big thang.”

We’ll see if this helps or only fans the flames.

I posted a reply on the Sun Times website:

Perhaps the editors of the Sun Times should feel “a little silly” about inviting Ms. Lenz to pen an editorial defending a former terrorist without identifying her fully.

Ms. Lenz is associated with the Alliance for Excellent Education on whose board sits Obama education advisor Linda Darling-Hammond. And on Ms. Lenz’ board of directors at the Community Renewal Society is Warren Chapman, one of the founders of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and a former staff member of the Joyce Foundation on whose board served Barack Obama.

While Ms. Lenz brushes over the self-proclaimed “radical” nature of school reform in Chicago she also ignores the fact that a central goal of the Annenberg Challenge led by Ayers and Obama was to bolster flagging Local School Councils, a new power center in the schools set up in the wake of a teachers strike to watchdog teachers and principals.

And although in a recent talk she gave she lauds the research conducted by the Consortium on Chicago School Research of the University of Chicago, she ignores their studied conclusion that the Annenberg Challenge was a failure. $160,000,000 down the drain and no improvement in student outcomes.

No wonder the Mayor pushed against Ayers and Obama to re-centralize power over the schools, although that was no comfort to the teachers union.

Oh, at least Ms. Lenz gets one thing right: Ayers was indeed not “just some guy in the neighborhood” as Senator Obama attempted to mislead the American people into thinking. Given the failure of the Annenberg Challenge and the authoritarian outlook that a former terrorist brought to the reform effort, no wonder he made the attempt.

More great background on Lenz has been dug up by Real Barack Obama. These serve to emphasize the point I made about her fundamental lack of objectivity when it comes to Bill Ayers, Barack Obama and the legacy of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

The post includes a fascinating video of a panel chaired by Lenz in 2006 that included Bill Ayers.  Ayers uses this May 2006 talk to endorse the proposal to “reframe” the concept of the achievement gap – the gap in outcomes between students of different racial, ethnic or class backgrounds – as an “education debt” that needs to be repaid by whites to people of color, in other words, reparations.  
This reparations-based approach to education was apparently first proposed the month before by Gloria Ladson-Billings in her Presidential Address to the American Education Research Association.  Ayers is now a Vice President-elect of AERA.  
The education debt idea has also been endorsed by Linda Darling-Hammond, education advisor to Barack Obama, via a group called the Forum for Education and Democracy (FED).  FED’s Executive Director is George Wood who also was part of the panel chaired by Lenz in 2006.
The [FED] report incorporates Gloria Ladson-Billings’ recommendation that the federal government ought to function as an instrument for addressing “the education debt” created during slavery and Jim Crow and continuing to this day in under-funded, over-crowded, poorly-served urban schools, where the achievement gaps are only the symptom of a long and far more complicated problem.

The United Church of Christ is the parent entity of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, which advocates for reparations, and is the church to which Barack Obama belongs.