ACORN-style Tactics In School Choice Debate

Does being anti-union make it OK to take up with the likes of Rahm Emanuel?

The former White House Chief of Staff under Obama and now mayor of Chicago has been butting heads with the teachers' union. He's promoting charter schools and calling for longer school days. Emanuel almost sounds like he's converting to conservatism.

Emanuel joined Juan Williams, former NPR news reporter and now Fox News commentator, in a video promoting the conservative cause National School Choice Week happening now. Organized by Kyle Olson founder of Education Action Group Foundation and journalist for Breitbart's BigGovernment, NCSW has rallies and promotions going on all over the country

Conservatives desiring public charters should be careful whom they let into their camp. Wherever Emanuel is, ACORN style tactics aren't far away. For years, the Chicago mayor's office has had an arrangement with city preachers. The city subsidizes the churches, and the preachers do the mayor's bidding on whatever he needs to sell to the public.

In a recent scam, down and out people looking for help paying their energy bills went to the nearby help center named HOPE Organization.  They ended up being recruited and bused to a rally for school choice and school closings for $50, but they weren't told the details until they arrived.

Both men told the Chicago Sun-Times that they didn't realize the intent of the rally, supporting the closure of certain schools, until the last minute. Thaddeus Scott, 35, says he was promised $50 dollars to speak at the rally, which he was told was "for schools." He says he was stiffed $25 after the head of the Hope organization, the Rev. Roosevelt Watkins III, complained that Scott had publicly revealed that he was compensated for speaking at the hearing.

"I don't want the $25 he [Watkins] owes me. He can keep his dirty money," Scott told the Sun-Times. "They thought for a few dollars they could get us to say whatever they want. ... We were preyed upon." [snip]

Watkins, who is also a pastor at Bethlehem Star Missionary Baptist Church, acknowledged to the newspaper that he organized busloads of people to attend the hearings which concerned the closings of Crane High School and Guggenheim and Reed Elementary schools.

To cover his tracks, the pastor said he trains "community organizers" and that this training engages "community activists to participate in things such as health care, affordable housing, education..."

But in this case, the church leader was clearly not "engaging community activists," he was soliciting poor people who came to get help paying their heating bills.

In a related development, Mayor Emanuel has called on the Chicago church community many times in the past six months to act as demonstrators for school choice and school closing rallies he's held.

Most recently, the preachers in question were feted at a breakfast at Sox Park ("U.S. Cellular Field") in August [2011], prior to their preaching in favor of the longer school day in their churches and circulating a petition in their congregations on behalf of Emanuel's attack on the Chicago Teachers Union. [snip]

Part of Rahm's Rent a Preacher is coordinated by Reynaldo Kyles...Kyles, whose title is currently "Director of Faith-Based Initiatives" for CPS , [Chicago Public schools] is paid $82,000 per year, working under Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley.

Why do promoters of the NCSW campaign look the other way when someone as notorious as Rahm Emanuel joins the show?

When anti-union conservatives use anti-union crooks to further their cause, we're living in an upside down world.

Read more Ann Kane at Potter Williams Report