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Million dollars spent on Emanuel TV ad

Thursday, Sep 20, 2012

* Late yesterday afternoon I told you about a new TV ad featuring Mayor Rahm Emanuel and paid for by a school reform group. Since it was posted late, some of you may not have seen it. Have a look

* Script…

Like all Chicagoans, I’m glad the strike is over.

These were difficult negotiations, but here’s what we achieved.

A full day for our kids, so they can meet their full potential.

Principals will have the freedom to hire the best teachers.

Parents retain the right to choose the best school for their kids.

And for the first time, student achievement will be part of a teacher’s evaluation.

Change is never easy, and this contract certainly wasn’t.

But more time in class and more accountability is the right deal for our kids.

* What I didn’t know at the time was how much money was behind the ad. CBS2 has that info

A million dollar TV buy put the mayor’s spin all over the airwaves Wednesday. Emanuel discusses the teachers’ contract in the ad, which was funded not by the city or the mayor himself, but by Education Reform Now, a group which has battled teachers’ unions across the country.


Has there ever been anything like this anywhere? I have never heard of such a thing. A million samolians is plunked down by an anti teachers union group so that a Democratic mayor can stress the positive outcome of a teacher strike.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

* Meanwhile, the Chicago Teachers Union is running a radio ad…

* And the head of the CTU, Karen Lewis, says Emanuel hasn’t reached out to her since the union ended the strike

Has the mayor called?


But “I’m not surprised he didn’t call,’’ said Lewis, who said previously the mayor threw the f-bomb at her during one of their early private meetings.

“I haven’t had a relationship with him so I don’t know why it would start today,’’ Lewis said. “People want to make this out to be a big fight. I don’t even think about him.’’

However, Lewis conceded, union literature about the deal specifically mentions that if the two sides don’t extend the contract to four years, it will conclude in the middle of a mayoral campaign.

Time to govern, people.

* Emanuel also hasn’t reached out to the “Rahm Emanuel likes Nickelback” guy

Conan O’Brien’s staff took notice, featuring the signs on the late-night comedian’s website and even parodying them. National and international news media ran stories about the guy with the Nickelback sign and a “denial” by an Emanuel spokeswoman that the mayor does not really like the Canadian pop rockers. (There was no reply to a Wednesday email asking if Emanuel likes the other seven performers Konkoleski chose).

In fairness, Konkoleski said he likes all kinds of music — except country — and admitted he has songs on his iPod by some of the acts he accused the mayor of liking, including one each by Milli Vanilli and Michael Bolton.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever meet face to face,” Konkoleski said, adding that he voted for Emanuel last year, “but if we do, we can at least strike up a conversation about Milli Vanilli and go from there.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 4:04 am:

    If only the hedge funders/charter school proprietors behind Education Reform Now could donate $1 million directly to CPS programs/maintenance/salaries instead of campaign ads for a politician who won’t run for election for 3 whole years. I mean since they care so much more about the children than the teachers and all.

  2. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 5:00 am:

    I agree with hisgirlfriday on this one.

    It is unseemly. It looks like damage control, which underscores the damage. Which is part of the reason yesterday I suggested the ad would have been much better without the Mayor.

    I guess this is what happens when a local story goes national. All types of national voices decide to use it as their platform, often in bumbling, tone deaf sort of way.

    Someone made the point yesterday I think that Rahm may have taken on some water, but three months from now his popularity would have rebounded. I think that’s a safe bet. After any stressful community wide event, people want to come back together.

    He should have been patient. Most voters, including Chicagoans, would like to forgive-and-forget. But you can’t force it on them. It takes time. More than 24 hours.

    And if you’re going to try to force it on them, try starting out with an apology. When 71% of voters blame you or the school board, Sorry is a good starting point.

    Not “Like all Chicagoans, I’m glad the strike is over.” No sir, you are not like all Chicagoans. You had the power to prevent the strike in the first place. And you might be glad it’s over, but for very different reasons than all of the rest of us.

    I corrected myself yesterday when I learned that the Mayor has a plan to reward good principals with a pool of $5 million for merit bonuses. Although the details are murky, my advice to the Mayor would have been to include that in the ad. Although it wasn’t part of the negotiations, I don’t think that I’m the only person in Chicago who perceives an administration that is out to blame teachers for all of our schools’ shortcomings.

  3. - Mortimer - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 7:44 am:

    There is definitely demand out there for a narrative that is pro-education reform, education reform that is counter to the union’s narrative.

    Normally this demand would be filled by the Republicans, but Chicago is a one party state, so we have to make do. Rahm is being shrewd and practical here.

    Money + demand + politicians = narrative

  4. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 8:22 am:

    How about spending those million bucks for new library books for CPS? Many of these students come from homes where there is no reading materials and they certainly do not have computers or Kindles or Nooks that’s for sure! All the evidence and research points out that students read and write better when they have access to good reading materials. From my conversations with CPS librarians I know that many of their libraries are lacking funds to update their collections with up-to-date non-fiction and fiction.

    Budgets are determined by principals and local school councils. Sadly, many of those budgets do not include funds to improve their library collections. In many elementary schools there are no librarians or libraries. It is my understanding that language about libraries was in CTU’s proposal.

  5. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 8:24 am:

    “…where there are no reading materials…”

    I should proofread before I send. Sorry.

  6. - OldSmoky2 - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 8:51 am:

    People like this don’t spend $1 million on ads without expecting a return on their investment. And the New York hedge fund guys behind outfits like Education Reform Now Advocacy and Edison Learning expect to get that return - and make a nice profit off Chicago taxpayers - when Emanuel turns over most of Chicago’s public schools to them. In the long run, the parking meter deal will look like chump change by comparison.

  7. - Tired of the Hypocrisy - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 9:00 am:

    Wow, it’s really sad that you get labeled anti teacher when you say the needs of children should take precedent over adults. While CTU and others talked about books and air conditioning and other issues the dominant thing they asked for and held out for at the table focused on teacher evaluation and recall rights. Leadership and too many others during TV interviews said don’t say my kids should have ANY growth by the end of the year because they’re poor and have challenging lives so they won’t be able to learn any thing! Whaaaa?! Other high quality schools across the country in low income areas move the needle on poor kids every day! In what world are automatic pay increases and a luke warm evaluation the norm? Oh right, before the contract, CPS! Which by the way, other than merit pay (and everyone figured from jump it wouldn’t happen) what exactly did the CTU get that was so different from what CPS offered? There were tweaks but basically the CPS offer remained the same (the wage offer wasn’t much more than what they originally offered, we still have student growth for an eval (w/student surveys too), and over time recall and firings will be based on quality not seniority.

  8. - Shore - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 9:05 am:

    He uses the word “our” to refer to kids. His kids don’t attend public schools.

  9. - downstate hack - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 9:15 am:

    Lack of books, resources? It shouldn’t surprise the teachers when they demand 16% raises when they know CPS is broke. Even the auto workers took major concessions to save GM.

  10. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 9:26 am:

    This is a fascinating development. The mayor of Chicago is communicating through $1 million in paid advertising bankrolled by the leading interest group promoting privately managed, publicly funded charter schools.

    There’s money in K-12 schools and the financiers want in.

    If you want to see what’s coming to Chicago and Springfield, surf the google about what’s been happening in recent years in NYC and Albany.

    That’s been a pitched battle between teachers unions on one side and Mayor Bloomberg and hedge-fund dominated groups like Education Reform Now and Democrats for Education Reform (basically the same crew) over expansion of charter schools.

    The grand poohbah in New York leading the way was former city schools chancellor Joel Klein, who took the heat for shutting down schools with union teachers while opening new charter schools.

    After leaving the schools, he was, until recently, chairman of Education Reform Now. He also took a $4.5 million a year gig to head News Corp’s big move into education testing, evaluation and curriculum products.

    Bruce Rauner, Emanuel’s charter schools guy and governor wannabe, who wants to get rid of all those “lousy, ineffective, lazy teachers,” wants to see his New Schools for Chicago investment fund control 30% of Chicago public schools by 2020.

    Let’s stipulate that everyone involved cares about the kids. But no matter how you spin it, there’s a lot of money on the table, too.

    I was up half the night reading on this. Klein writes a lot in The Atlantic. For an informed and concerned view about the rise of the financiers in public schools, I’d recommend Diane Ravitch, an NYU professor, author and former DEO assistant secretary. For the charter schools experience in New York, Juan Gonzalez in the NY Daily News is good. And for the national battle between the unions and the hedgies, Stephanie Simon at Reuters is very good.

    The strike might be over, but the fight is just getting started.

  11. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 9:53 am:

    Who else think the hedgefund hustlers cry out for their need for adult older children to adopt? Call every day, wipe the spit off their chins, give them some love.

    (The following will sound UnAmerican)

    And prevent booting all this moolah into vast storm sewer of media buys/ consultant fees.

    (Wow that hurt)

    Repeat after us “We Love you CousinBrucey, AnnieD, KenneyG et al. Let’s do lunch. Or better a quick flight to PV to review the next spending and bask in some nice sun.”
    Fire,Aim, Ready

  12. - Grandma - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 10:11 am:

    Please spend tv commercial taxpayers $$$ in education! Just accept Chicago doesn’t want to see your face even on tv. Hit the road Jack!

  13. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 10:46 am:

    - The mayor of Chicago is communicating through $1 million in paid advertising bankrolled by the leading interest group promoting privately managed, publicly funded charter schools. -

    I guess these billionaires think 15% is too much in taxes, so they’re going to get it back by running education at a profit.

    This is straight out of a Vonnegut novel.

  14. - walkinfool - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    Frankly frightening. A “Citizens United” tidal wave coming to try to buy public education policy around the country.

    They’ve made big waves influencing lawmaking, and executive enforcement of regulations at the state and national level, bought much of the press, and now another pillar of a free democracy. Focusing on buying the judiciary next?

  15. - Crime Fighter - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 10:48 am:

    Hang on to your wallet when your people crying out for “Reform”. “Reform” in public education and pensions is a code word for decimation.

    The is an ever increasing body of evidence that shows whenever rich folks and their subjects want to destroy something and cash in, they call it “reform”.

  16. - walkinfool - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 11:24 am:

    Well, at least it’s a little “redistribution of wealth” to US workers in the ad and media fields.

  17. - Loop Lady - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    I’m thinkin’ reading this blog that Rahm doesn’t want a second term….Mayor Bloomberg is one of the ten richest people in America and is worth 25 billion…why can’t the superich do something beneficial for society instead of accumulating ever more wealth and power? Sickening. The race to the bottom brought to you by the superich.

  18. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 11:36 am:

    In the coming years, it seems pretty clear that Emanuel hopes to close X number of current public schools that have union staffs and open more charter schools.

    As the fight over the money shifts intensifies, it will be interesting to see the role played by the Archdiocese of Chicago and voucher supporters.

    They’ve been interested for quite some time in public money walking into their long-established schools in the city. I’d be curious as to their thoughts on the new guys coming in and getting public money for privately managed startup schools.

  19. - Will Caskey - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 11:37 am:

    YDD I don’t think this is damage control so much as showing that there are two sides here, one of which’s main avenue of communication is hilariously bad press releases and the other of which drops like 1500 points on broadcast to just chat about things.

    Frankly it makes me all tingly about 2015 as a campaign mercenary.

  20. - Esquire - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 11:52 am:

    It would be embarrassing except for the fact that Emanuel has no shame.

  21. - the Other Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 12:08 pm:

    What makes this even more unseemly is that Education Reform Now is a 501(c)(3) organization. That means it cannot dabble directly in politics, and I would suggest to the good folks at the IRS that they look closely at this (and their other expenditures). This isn’t just using a Citizens United loophole; it violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the tax laws.

  22. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 3:06 pm:

    Caskey -

    I think voters realize there are two sides. They’ve been hearing both sides for months upon months. Rahm campaigned on a longer school day, and has been talking about it non-stop.

    In the Rahm v. Teachers debate, the voters simply sided with the teachers. Now, Rahm’s fighting a battle he’s already lost. As my grandpa would say: “Quit while you’re behind.”

    By inserting Rahm into the ad, they’re making the “school reform” all about Rahm again. Bad choice for the issue, so why is the there?

    Simple. Damage control. To show he feels our pain, and he’s on our side.

    I think Rahm’s been a better mayor than his predecessor. But he botched this one badly. That said, I think he’ll not only recover but hope he will be an even better mayor for this experience.

  23. - Will Caskey - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 5:28 pm:

    YDD, purely out of the assumption that exuberance and despair both have a tendency towards inaccuracy- with an ad buy that size and considering it doesn’t seem defensive, one could reasonably assume it was going to happen regardless of outcome, yes?

    It just seems to me to be part of a drive to win on the issues in a mid- to long-term sense, especially considering the contract will probably come up again in 2015.

  24. - ydia - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 6:23 pm:

    Those insidious ads are still not as vile as the ones running before and during the strike by the same charter school profiteer group. Those ads said teachers were against the longer day and claimed we had a great deal on the table at the exact same time that CPS was stonewalling us. Those had to cost multi-millions that could have been spent on the students. Rahm is the Grinch that stole education.

  25. - Emily Booth - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 7:11 pm:

    Rahm sends his 2 girls to Lab. Tuition is $25K a year for each child.

    Charter schools: the new profiteers.

  26. - Jimbo - Thursday, Sep 20, 12 @ 10:12 pm:

    It’s the “Chicago Way”. Common sense and reason have nothing to do with this situation.Either you do it “Our Way” or you don’t do it.Period.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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