Press is 'pooled' and not allowed to ask any questions on anniversary of No Child Left Behind
Comment by Rich Gibson:
Above is a link to Substance News which is becoming the real voice of
educational resistance. The lead article on Bush and NCLB is by
George Schmidt, a most interesting piece more indicative of how press
reporting is done now than about what Bush said about NCLB.
Look for more coverage in Substance, the only newspaper of the resistance.
Subscriptions to Substance are just 16 dollars a year, perhaps 5% of
what many people pay in union dues, to unions that do not represent
the rank and file.
We need to write letters to editors of the corporate press, articles
in journals, books, for magazines, online, but we also need a
commonly understood hard copy voice not controlled by profiteering
where the many views of the education resistance can find a space to
unite and debate.
Please, subscribe to Substance and help connect reason to power.
President Bush, Mayor Daley hide behind massive security to promote "No Child
By George N. Schmidt
CHICAGO. JANUARY 7. With the help of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and
hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of security deployed for his six-hour visit,
the President of the United States excluded the public and the press from his
anniversary speech commemorating the signing of No Child Left Behind today.
The scene of George W. Bush's seven-minute anniversary speech on behalf of No
Child Left Behind was Horace Greeley Elementary School, a half mile north of
Wrigley Field in Chicago's Wrigleyville community. Inside the school,
President Bush did a carefully choreographed visit to a few classrooms, children, and
teachers before giving a brief speech replete with all the usual talking
points about "standards and accountability." In the speech, Bush also said that he
would veto any version of No Child Left Behind that changed the law as it now
stands, and that he has the power to implement parts of the law through
executive order whether or not Congress reauthorizes the law, which is currently
stalled in both the House and Senate.
Bush spoke inside Horace Greeley Elementary School at 832 W. Sheridan Road in
Chicago. He said that he had chosen Greeley as the site of his speech because
it had been chosen by the U.S. Department of Education as an exemplary public
schools, based on No Child Left Behind. Located less than one half mile north
of Wrigley Field in the trendy "Wrigleyville" section of Chicago, Greeley,
with approximately 500 students this year, is not typical of the city's more
than 500 public elementary schools.
Outside the school, more than 100 Chicago police officers, Secret Service
guards (including snipers posted on two roofs), and platoons of other city
workers kept the public out of the public school the president chose for the site of
the event celebrating his public schools policy.
Photographs provided by the White House press pool, which allowed only a
handful of reporters to cover the event, show Bush talking with students in a
classroom while Mayor Daley and Congressman Rahm Emmanuel stand in the background.
The security perimeter around the Greeley school was so tight during the half
hour the President was inside the building that even parents who tried to go
to the school to pick up their children were held behind police lines a block
from the building. A Substance reporter covering the story from outside the
building interviewed one mother who was being blocked by Chicago police from
going to the school where her child attended. She asked that her name not be
At both ends of the block, the City of Chicago had parked loaded city garbage
trucks -- marked Streets and Sanitation. These are salt trucks which were
parked across the street, apparently to fend off anyone who might try to drive
near the president.
Behind the salt trucks on the east side of Greeley, a phalanx of seven
mounted Chicago police officers -- dubbed by some anti-Bush protesters on the
sidewalk at that point "the cavalry" -- stood in line to prevent anyone who might
break through from getting too close to the Presidential Press Event taking
place inside the school.
The mounted police were accompanied by at least two uniformed City of Chicago
pooper scoopers. The cleaners wore City of Chicago vests. Their sole job was
to immediately clean up the horseshit that regularly fell to the pavement
while the mounted police faced the crowd. The pooper scoopers confirmed that they
were there to clean up the horse's droppings, but asked that they not be named
in news reports.
Although one pool press report said there were "about 15" anti-Bush
demonstrators at Greeley, Substance counted more than 60 to the east of the school
standing on the corners near Sheridan Road and Broadway. Additional protestors
were at Fremont and Sheridan west of the school. Security had cordoned off a four
square block area around the school, and police officers were under orders
not to permit anyone inside the perimeter without authorization. Despite the
fact that three Substance reporters presented officers with Chicago Police press
passes, Substance was denied entry within the perimeter from both the west and
east by Chicago police sergeants, who said they were under orders to bar the
press as well as others who wanted to enter the street.
Inside Greeley, Bush delivered his carefully prepared remarks for an equally
carefully prepared audience. Posed in photographs with the Mayor and President
are students from the school and the school's principal. No teachers are
visible in the photographs that have been provided to Substance by agreement with
the press pool.
Most Chicago media, bit and smaller, were barred from the Greeley event.
The audience inside the school included a total of 19 members of the media --
all called the "White House Press Pool" for the day.
According to White House media affairs spokesmen, who were interviewed by
Substance on a number of occasions leading up to the event, "pool coverage" is
common in these cases. There is a "Washington Pool" of 15 press people, and
local people are added when the President travels.
In addition to the 15 "Washington Press Pool" people who travelled with the
President to Chicago on Air Force One, the White House had appointed Stephanie
Banchero of the Chicago Tribune and Rosalind Rossi of the Chicago Sun-Times to
cover the story as part of the "local pool." Heather Stone of the Chicago
Tribune was the official "local press pool" photographer and Williams Jennings of
WMAQ TV was the official "press pool" person for Chicago radio and television
Every other reporter in Chicago was required to stand behind police lines to
get the story about how President Bush's No Child Left Behind law was working
and bringing "standards and accountability" to the public schools of the
United States of America.
Bush took no questions from the press either inside the building, before or
after the Greeley event, or at the Union League Club where he spoke later in
the day (see below).
While Bush was presumably delivering his No Child Left Behind anniversary
speech inside Greeley school, TV news -- including ABC Channel 7, CBS Channel 2,
WGN Channel 9, and Fox News -- were parked more than a block away from the
President, trying to cover the news from outside the building. Most TV reporters
were taking photographs of the small protests against the Bush visit or the
elaborate security while the President was speaking on No Child Left Behind.
The security was elaborate and expensive.
Substance was told by one community resident that "Bush blood" had been
deposited at the hospital a block north of Greeley the day before.
Elaborate security procedures were in place at Chicago's O'Hare International
Airport for the media at the time of the arrival of Air Force One, which
brought the President into Chicago at precisely 9:30 a.m. Substance reporters were
double checked, all equipment was checked, and specialized dogs were used to
check vehicles and equipment. Security staff told Substance that the dogs are
trained to sniff out explosives.
No reporters were allowed within 150 feet of the President when he got off
Air Force One and into a waiting United States Marine Corps helicopter. Only
photographs were permitted by the press at that point.
Bush was then taken by helicopter in a four-helicopter convoy away from
O'Hare Airport. According to pool reports, his helicopter touched down in Soldier
Field, where he was joined by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley for a limousine
ride north to Greeley. According to pool reports, there were well-wishers on the
sides of the road at some point to greet the President and Mayor Daley as they
passed in the procession. Substance has been unable to determine how the well
wishers learned of the route of the limousines, since members of the media had
not been informed of how the President was getting from the helicopter to
At Greeley, observers told Substance that there were at least two men with
rifles -- presumably security -- on rooftops adjacent to the school where the
President was speaking.
After Bush left Greeley Elementary, he was taken in a limousine downtown to
the Union League Club, where he met with Mayor Daley and members of the Olympic
President Bush was scheduled to deliver a speech on the economy at the Union
League Club, at 65 W. Jackson, at 1:15 p.m. Although the security was less
tight at the Union League Club than at Greeley, again the public was greeted with
Chicago's cavalry (the mounted police) and the ubiquitous salt trucks
blocking the streets. About a hundred protesters stood at the intersection of Jackson
and Dearborn protesting various policies of the Bush administration.
The meeting with the Olympic committee was closed to the public and most of
the press, but Bush's economic speech was opened to those media that had
applied for special credentials to the White House prior to the event. Promptly at
1:15, Bush walked into the room at the Union League Club with Chicago Mayor
Richard M. Daley. After Daley thanked Bush for his support for the city's bid to
host the 2016 Olympics, Bush began his economic speech with the claim that
prior to No Child Left Behind schools like Greeley were failing the children of
Chicago, but that the improvements made at Greeley since 2002, when No Child
Left Behind was passed, had been caused by the fact that the federal government
and Chicago's mayor had established clear standards for public education.
Bust then delivered a speech which repeated all of the main themes of his
economic polices, including his demand that the tax cuts for the wealthy be
maintained and that the estate tax (which he calls the "death tax") be ended. At
each point where he denounced "Congress" for wanting to raise taxes or increase
government spending, Bush was greeted with enthusiastic applause from the very
affluent all-white Union League Club audience prepared for him. The members
of the audience ranged from billionaires (like Patrick Ryan, who is CEO of Aon
Insurance as well as head of Chicago's Olympic Committee) to millionaires in
large numbers. This reporter did not see any middle class or African Americans
in the audience that was there to cheer the Bush economic speech.
Following the Union League Club speech, the President was whisked back to
O'Hare International Airport and flown back to Washington, D.C. aboard Air Force
One, which had arrived promptly at 9:30 in the morning.
By 2:00, the last protesters who had been arrested outside the Union League
Club were gone. The pooper scoopers had finished their work and the blue salt
trucks that had kept the public at least a block away from the President of the
United States and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley were back on their regular
routes, collecting garbage and salting the roads when it snowed.
George N. Schmidt,
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES