Jonah Edelman and the Illinois Way: Model for the nation??

We in Illinois have just convicted yet another Illinois governor. This one was a Democrat. The last one was a Republican. We need to realize that it’s not about political party these days, it’s only – and completely – about who’s buying.

Makes the Tea Partiers seem like they’re on to something, doesn’t it?

In case you’re not already convinced that our state legislature is a disaster, or you think Blagojevich was just an aberration. read this transcript prepared by Parents Across America’s Caroline Grannan of comments national Stand for Children leader Jonah Edelman made at a recent Aspen Institute conference about the group’s legislative “victory” over Illinois teachers/unions. Here are some quotes:

Jonah on SFC’s dropping $600 million on Illinois state legislative races in the fall of 2010:

(W)e interviewed 36 candidates in targeted races. … I’m being quite blunt here. The individual candidates were essentially a vehicle to execute a political objective, which was to tilt toward Madigan. The press never picked up on it. We endorsed nine individuals – and six of them were Democrats, three Republicans – and tilted our money toward Madigan… That was really an show of – indication to him that we could be a new partner to take the place of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. That was the point. Luckily, it never got covered that way. That wouldn’t have worked well in Illinois – Madigan is not particularly well liked. And it did work.

Jonah on Madigan rushing to appoint a new committee and setting up hearings just for SFC and Advance Illinois:

The next day he created an Education Reform Commission and his political director called to ask for our suggestions who should be on it. And so in Aurora, Ill., in December, out of nowhere, there were hearings on our proposal.

Jonah on his political acumen:

We hired 11 lobbyists, including four of the absolute best insiders, and seven of the best minority lobbyists – preventing the unions from hiring them.

Speaker Madigan had changed allegiance … we had clear political capability to potentially jam this proposal down (the unions’) throats

Jonah on the nature of the relationship between the “independent, nonpartisan” Advance Illinos group and the “grass roots” Stand for Children group:

And so over the course of three months, with Advance Illinois taking the negotiating lead … and Advance and Stand working in lockstep – and that unity’s so important, that partnership … (the unions) essentially gave away every single provision related to teacher effectiveness that we had proposed.

Jonah on the importance of friends and family:

Jo Anderson, the former head of the Illinois Education Association, now works with Arne Duncan in the Department of Education, and his son Josh is the head of Teach for America in Chicago.

Jonah on Rahm Emanuel’s deeply held beliefs about education:

So in the intervening time, Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor … and he strongly supports our proposal. Jim [apparently Crown] … talked about the talking point that we made up and he [Emanuel] repeated about a thousand times, probably, on the campaign trail about the Houston kids going to school four years more than the Chicago kids.

To our surprise and with Rahm Emanuel’s involvement behind the scenes, we were able to split the IEA from the Chicago Teachers Union.

Jonah on the “model” process by which all parties were at the table, leading to a law that is so powerful in its fairness and expression of collaborative policy making that it is no doubt already raising test scores across the state:

We’d done our homework – we knew that the highest threshold of any bargaining unit that had voted one way or the other on a collective bargaining agreement on a contract vote was 48.3%. The threshold that we were arguing for was three-quarters, so in effect they couldn’t have the ability to strike even though the right was maintained. And so in the endgame, the Chicago Teachers Union took that deal, misunderstanding, probably not knowing the statistics about voting history – and the length of day and year was no longer bargainable in Chicago.

The unions cannot strike in Chicago. They will never be able to muster the 75% threshold necessary to strike. And the whole framework for discussing impact – you know, what compensation is necessary – is set up through the fine print that we approved to ensure that the fact-finding recommendations, which are nonbinding, will favor what we would consider to be common sense.

Jonah on the promise that this piece of (^@& will be coming to your state soon:

We’ve been happy to dole out plenty of credit and now it makes it hard for folks leading unions in other states to say these types of reforms are terrible because their colleagues in Illinois just said these are great. So our hope and our expectation is to use this as a catalyst to very quickly make similar changes in other very entrenched states.


This story is so hot it even hit the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune this AM. This is most surprising coming from the Trib, which has been crowing for months about the new “reform” law, calling it a model for the nation.

Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Uncategorized

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