Obama education reform checks out

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Obama's Foundation Funded the Former "Communist Party" Leader

A foundation chaired by Barack Obama that was designed to improve Chicago public schools gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Small Schools Workshop, an organization led by former Weatherman Bill Ayers and by Michael Klonsky, a former chairman of both Students for a Democratic Society and, according to The Washington Post and New York Times, a group called the “Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist).”

"Ayers and an old comrade from SDS, Mike Klonsky, run the Small Schools Workshop to mentor and provide guidance and technical support to educators seeking to start small schools,” The Chicago Tribune reported on Sept. 16, 2001.

In a September 6, 1977 article headlined “China’s Ideal American; U.S. Marxist Gets Red-Carpet Welcome in China,” The Washington Post said Klonsky was “chairman of the newly organized Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) of the United States of America.”

“Secretary of State Cyrus Vance got a good reception in Peking last month, but nothing like the red-carpet treatment received by that distinguished representative of the American people, Michael Klonsky,” the Post reported, before asking: “Michael who?”

Answering its own question, the Post said: “Klonsky, as it turns out, is the chairman of the newly organized Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) of the United States of America, an amalgam of various pro-Peking leftist troops whose memberships are not thought to total more than a few hundred people--if that. Klonsky enjoyed a period of notoriety during the late 1960s when he headed Students for a Democratic Society and, for the first time, brought a radical Communist rhetoric to that New Left organization.”

The August 26, 1977 New York Times, citing Klonsky as leader of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), reported that he was one of only five Americans other than Secretary of State Vance and former President Richard Nixon and two Chinese-American scientists to have met with new Chinese Communist Party Chairman Hua Kuo-feng.

According to publicly available IRS 990 documents, the Small Schools Workshop that Klonsky ran with Bill Ayers received at least $800,000 from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) between 1998 and 2002. Obama chaired the CAC.

Leftist Activist

Klonsky “spent his college years in the late 60’s and early 70’s as an activist at what is now California State University, Northridge,” according to a March 5, 2000 story in The Chicago Tribune.

It added: “Mike Klonsky, who teaches education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was a member of the Students for a Democratic Society and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).”

Klonsky in 1968 “was national chairman of the S.D.S. and a demonstration organizer” during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, The New York Times reported on Aug. 26, 1996.

In an Aug. 24, 1996 piece in the Toronto Star that described Klonsky as an “angry student organizer” during the 1968 Democratic convention, Klonsky was quoted as saying he had entered the “political process.”

“He heads a project to revitalize Chicago's inner city schools,” the Star reported. “He shows up at the office in jeans and a T-shirt. He is speaking out against racism, working with the poor and railing against the rise of right-wing politics in America.”

“We have to keep our guard up, make sure that progressive people are still active and conscious and aware," Klonsky told the Star. “I’ve become part of the political process.”

When the SDS splintered in 1969 – in what The Chicago Tribune described as “a showy and disastrous split”--Ayers, his now-wife Bernardine Dohrn and others formed the violent Weatherman faction.

“I led the fight against the Weatherman,” Klonsky told the Tribune in Sept. 2001. “I wasn’t big on blowing up toilets and statues.”

Klonsky then founded the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) (CPML) in June 1977 in the Midwest, according to the Washington Post’s September 1977 article, after which he traveled to China in July 1977 and met with the Chairman Hua Kuo-feng of the Chinese Communist Party, who gave him, according to the Post, “what still stands as the warmest reception ever given an American by the new Chinese leader.”

“Vice Premier Li Hsien-nien told Klonsky at the banquet that the founding of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) of the United States reflects the aspirations of the proletariat and other working people of the United States and is a new victory for the Marxist-Leninist movement in the United States,” the Post reported.

The Post continued: “Klonsky replied, according to the Chinese news agency, ‘As a Marxist-Leninist party in one of the two superpowers, and recognizing our responsibility to lead the struggle to topple the U.S. imperialist ruling class, we are determined as well to make a contribution to the worldwide struggle against the two superpowers, the United States and Soviet social-imperialism, the main enemies of the peoples of the world.’”

The party collapsed in 1981, however.

“Between 1979 and 1981, the CPML, which had become internationally recognized as China's favorite American party (CPML chairman Mike Klonsky was repeatedly feted with state-dinner-level visits to Beijing), dissolved in a rapid series of factional splits and departures,” Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Garrow wrote in July 9, 2002 Village Voice review of “Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che” by Max Elbaum.

School reform advocate

In the 1990s, Klonsky became a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he and Bill Ayers would join forces in the Small Schools Workshop.

“We started the Small Schools Workshop in 1991, with the goal of supporting Chicago’s reform-minded teachers as they tried to create new, smaller learning communities,” Klonsky and Ayers wrote in a February 2006 article they jointly authored for Phi Delta Kappan magazine, titled “Renaissance 2010: The Small Schools Movement Meets the Ownership Society.”

The bio-line for the article specified that Ayers founded the Small Schools Workshop in 1991 and that Klonsky “has served as the workshop’s director since 1993.”

“Our vision of small schools was closely connected with issues of social justice, equity, and community,” they wrote.

Klonsky repeatedly has been identified as “co-director” or “director” of the Workshop.

An Aug. 26, 1996 Associated Press story noted: “Mike Klonsky, a former SDS leader and ’68 protester, is helping reform Chicago’s troubled public schools as co-director of the Small Schools Workshop at the University of Illinois-Chicago.”

A March 5, 2000 Chicago Tribune story said Klonsky “remains active as co-director of the Small Schools Workshop based at UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago).”

A 2006 news release from Nova Southeastern University in Florida, announced Klonsky’s arrival there, identifying the educator as “director of the Small Schools Workshop in Chicago, Illinois.”

Of his collaboration with Ayers, Klonsky told the Chicago Tribune in 2001: “Now we’re on the same train. We still disagree about things, but . . . as long as we don’t talk about ’69, then we’re OK.”

“We’ve learned how to work within the system. The fight to save and improve public education embodies all the issues we were fighting for back then,” he added.

Reached by phone by CNSNews.com, Klonsky declined to be interviewed.


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