Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama's Failed Leadership at Chicago Annenberg Challenge

New reports are emerging that cast a damaging light on Barack Obama's leadership tenure at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), an educational reform initiative promoting innovative learning methodologies. Obama was Chairman of the Board at CAC from 1995 to 1999.

Thomas Lifson has the background:

The cloak of media invisibility is slowly beginning to lift from Barack Obama's most important administrative leadership experience, helming an expensive educational reform effort in Chicago that failed to produce any measurable academic gains, according to the project's own final report.

Add in the fact that former Weatherman and admitted terrorist William Ayers (whom Obama
described in the Philadelphia debate as merely a "neighbor") was head of the operating arm of the CAC, working with Obama on distributing scores of millions of dollars to grantees in the wards of the city, and you have a topic that the Obama campaign wishes to avoid at all costs.

A compliant media has averted its eyes so far. A timeline of Obama's career from George Washington University omits it. Why the McCain campaign has not raised more questions on the subject is a question beyond my pay grade. But there are signs it is
on the case.

The four plus years (1995-1999) Barack Obama spent as founding chairman of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) represent his track record as reformer, as someone who reached out in a public-private collaboration and had the audacity to believe his effort would make things better. At the time he became leader of this ambitious project to remake the public schools of Chicago, he was 33 years old and a third year associate at a small Chicago law firm, Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland.

This was a big test for him, his chance to cut his teeth on bringing hope and change to the mostly minority inner city school children trapped in Chicago schools. And he flopped big time, squandering lots of money and the time of many public employees in the process.

Given Senator Obama's lack of any other posts as leader of an organization, someone unschooled in the ways of the American media might expect that for months reporters have been poring over the records of the project to get an idea of how it managed to fail so badly. Examining the track record of the guy who wants to lead the federal government would seem to be part of the campaign beat for media organizations.

Dan Riehl has more:

Continuing to follow up on what can be learned of Barack Obama's tenure as the Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), evaluations of the program during his tenure available on line demonstrate that in his only real executive test, Barack Obama was a dismal failure squandering millions of dollars on education programs which had basically no real effect. They also strongly suggest Obama's claim that un-repentant terrorist Bill Ayers is just a teacher who lived down the block is an outright lie. The structure and tone of the CAC, addressed in the documents, leave a strong impression the two men had to work together closely over a number of years. Also, as copies of CAC internal documents were given over to the evaluators, any notion that they now shouldn't be immediately shared with the public is an absolute farce.

Given Obama's significant lack of experience, aside from any Ayers connection which Stanley Kurtz continues to pursue, it's doubtful he'd want America to learn any details behind his obviously failed performance during the one time he was expected to perform as an executive in the real world.
Continue reading Reihl at the link.

Here's the screen shot of the executive summary of the institution's final report, "The Chicago Annenberg Challenge: Successes, Failures, and Lessons for the Future":

Obama Chicago Challenge

Lifson indicates that journalists and researchers have been denied access to the Annenberg project's data base, housed at the publicly-funded University of Illinois Chicago.

Andrew Malcolm and John Kass have the details on the university's refusal to release the records.