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The "Chicago Way" and Tenured Radical Bill Ayers

August 17, 2009

The University of Illinois, which employs communist terrorist Bill Ayers as a professor, has been hit by an admissions scandal which has forced the resignation of the chairman of its board of trustees. An investigation by the Chicago Tribune found that more than 800 undergraduate applicants received special consideration from 2005 to 2009 because "they had powerful patrons, including elected officials, trustees and donors." It added that "Dozens more law and graduate school applicants also got preferential treatment."

But how did Bill Ayers get his job? All signs point to his rich father, Thomas Ayers, who was CEO of Commonwealth Edison and a major power player in the Chicago establishment.

Will the Chicago Tribune investigate this? Thomas Ayers sat on the board of the Tribune Company, which publishes the Tribune.

Thomas Ayers also sat on the board of Northwestern University, where Bill Ayers' wife and fellow terrorist Bernardine Dohrn got a teaching job.

As a result of what the Tribune has revealed in the admissions scandal, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn created an Illinois Admissions Review Commission, which is scheduled to release a written report on the controversy this week. However, the commission has not been charged with investigating how professors got their jobs. This is a major omission.

Considering his history of terrorism, including bombing police stations, many people have been intrigued by the question of how Bill Ayers got to be a tenured "Distinguished Professor" of Education at the University of Illinois. That is why I submitted a state Freedom of Information Act request to the University of Illinois. I wanted to know how he was appointed and how he got tenure. I then asked Professor Mary Grabar, who has completed a major report (PDF) on the work and history of Professor Bill Ayers, to analyze the results of my request. She reports:

"A review of Ayers' curriculum vitae shows a rapid path through the educational system after he came out of hiding in 1979 for his involvement in bombings of U.S. government buildings with the domestic terrorist group Weatherman. Charges were dropped after the Carter Justice Department charged the two FBI agents with illegal surveillance. Enrolling at the nation's premier training academy for progressive teachers, Columbia University's Teachers College, Ayers soon earned both an M.Ed. and Ed.D. in Curriculum and Teaching (1987).  

"A Freedom of Information request for his tenure review process produced only blank forms with a cover letter stating that such information cannot be released 'unless the disclosure is consented to in writing by the individual.' But were the standards for hiring and promotion relaxed a bit for the son of a prominent Chicago businessman who headed Commonwealth Edison and sat on the board of the Chicago Tribune? Tenure requires proof of scholarship and publication in one's field, and the only book that Ayers had to show was a loosely constructed story of six anonymous preschool teachers, with none of the rigorous evaluation and data normally required in the field. 

"But an examination of his writings and syllabi reveal that Ayers continued in this vein, using his platform as a professor to promote the idea of education as the 'motor force of revolution' and himself as the hero at the forefront. They reveal an educational philosophy that contradicts the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards posted on the university's website.  The question remains: how many others could have made such a seamless rise from fugitive to distinguished professor while flaunting all standards?"

Another of our Freedom of Information Act requests resulted in the disclosure of a syllabi for a curious course entitled, "Social Conflicts of the 1960's." Two of the three pages are a diatribe, mostly against the U.S. policy of resisting the communist conquest of South Vietnam . It's not exactly clear how students were supposed to be graded for taking this "seminar," but Ayers concludes the course description by saying, "Show up or be doomed,"  and if you want to bring your children to the class, that's "fine."

Sounds like a great learning environment.

Clearly, the scandal involving the University of Illinois goes far beyond hundreds of students getting admitted because of high-level financial and political connections.

Mary Grabar's report demonstrates that Ayers' techniques are recycled Stalinist strategies of undermining American culture and education in order to bring about revolution. She asks, "Was Ayers' appointment part of the 'Chicago Way'?"

Before the Illinois Admissions Review Commission finishes its work, this is a question that should be investigated and answered. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn created the commission through an executive order saying that "fairness and transparency in the administration of an educational system is a fundamental aspect of the public trust." A new executive order should be issued to permit the panel to examine how Ayers got his teaching job.

·         Illinois Governor Pat Quinn can be contacted at 217-782-6830.

·         The e-mail addresses for the editor and staff of the Chicago Tribune can be found here.

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