Just A Guy Who Lives In My Neighborhood

Power Line examines Stanley Kurtz’s Wall Street Journal op-ed piece on the Barry-Bill Ayers connection:

…Stanley Kurtz’s piece, “Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism on Schools.” This is a link worth following. For Kurtz demonstrates (1) the dishonesty of Obama on the subject of his association with Ayers and (2) the underlying radicalism of the Ayers-Obama joint project.

Last April, Obama dismissed the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers as just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood,” and “not somebody who I exchange ideas with on a regular basis.” But in fact, Ayers and Obama were partners in the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), an organization whose mandate was the reformation of Chicago’s public schools.

Obama was CAC’s first board chairman, serving in that capacity for four years and remaining on the board for two more. Ayers was the founder of CAC and, according to Kurtz, its guiding spirit. Moreover, the archive documents Kurtz reviewed show that Ayers was part of a working group of five that assembled the initial board. Ayers then sat as an ex-officio member of the board Obama chaired through CAC’s first year. He also served on the board’s governance committee with Obama. The two worked together to craft CAC bylaws.

These findings demolish the Obama campaign claim that Ayers had nothing to do with Obama’s “recruitment” to the board.

Obama’s personal attempt to write Ayers off as some guy in his neighborhood fares no better. Ayers helped put Obama in the top position of an organization that distributed more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical activists. Moreover, Kurtz shows that Ayers did not bow out of the process after helping to install Obama. To the contrary Ayers collaborated with Obama n determining how to distribute this money. During this period, Ayers co-chaired something called the “Collaborative,” which worked with Obama’s group to shape education policy. In essence Ayers formulated the policy that would inform the distribution of funds; Obama headed the body that distributed the money accordingly.

It’s true, as the Obama campaign notes, that the Collaborative lost its “operational role” at CAC after the first year. Thereafter, it was relegated to an advisory role. But CAC’s own evaluators found that Obama’s board continued to adhere to the grant policies Ayers had put in place.

In any case, no honest person would describe the Ayers-Obama relationship the way Obama did. This was not some guy in the neighborhood, this was a partner in the distribution of large sums of money for public policy purposes. And this was someone with whom Obama did exchange ideas — Ayers spoke to Obama’s board; Obama spoke to Ayers’ board — on vital policy matters.

The ideas, moreover, were radical ones. As Kurtz explains:

Ayers is the founder of the “small schools” movement (heavily funded by CAC), in which individual schools built around specific political themes push students to “confront issues of inequity, war, and violence.” He believes teacher education programs should serve as “sites of resistance” to an oppressive system. . . The point, says Mr. Ayers in his “Teaching Toward Freedom,” is to “teach against oppression,” against America’s history of evil and racism, thereby forcing social transformation.
CAC funded Ayers’ teacher training programs — the ones designed to promote “resistance” to an oppressive system. The minutes Kurtz reviewed show that, under Obama and pursuant to Ayers’ principles, proposals from groups that focused on math/science achievement were turned down, while CAC disbursed money through various far-left community organizers, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (or Acorn). Indeed, Obama once conducted “leadership training” seminars with Acorn, and Acorn members also served as volunteers in Mr. Obama’s early campaigns. Meanwhile, according to Kurtz, “external partners like the South Shore African Village Collaborative and the Dual Language Exchange focused more on political consciousness, Afrocentricity and bilingualism than traditional education.”

How well did CAC perform in the end? In educational terms it failed. According to Kurtz, when CAC’s in-house evaluators comprehensively studied the effects of its grants on the test scores of Chicago public-school students, they found no evidence of educational improvement.

But CAC wasn’t about education, it was about politics, and by this measurement it cannot be rated a complete failure. CAC may or may not have contributed to the radicalization of Chicago’s schools, but it did serve as a political springboard for Barack Obama, albeit one that now represents a potential political embarrassment


Link to Stanley Kurtz’s op-ed piece here.

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