Daley rips U.S. snub on education funds

Illinois shut out of bucks by agency run by former CPS chief

September 16, 2010BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter fspielman@suntimes.com

Mayor Daley on Wednesday blasted a federal education bureaucracy run by former Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan over the process that culminated in Illinois being shut out from $400 million in federal funds.

The money was available through the “Race to the Top” program, President Obama’s marquee education initiative. After cutting the ribbon at a new elementary school in West Rogers Park, Chicago’s lame-duck mayor ridiculed all of the “political slogans” that have ballyhooed federal education programs under the last two presidents.

“You leave no child left behind. You race to the top. Next year, you race to the bottom. Next year, you race to the side. Everybody’s racing to something,” Daley said.

“Why can’t you send us money to build our schools. … All the teachers know that these are just political slogans. We should end it.”

Daley said the outcome of the “Race to the Top” sweepstake might have been different for Illinois if only “those who had worked in the vineyards” in Chicago had been part of the pitch for federal funding.

Instead, the State Board of Education made the presentation. Illinois finished 15th among 19 finalists.