States

Stand for Children Leader Catches Heat

By Sean Cavanagh — July 15, 2011 1 min read

Jonah Edelman, the leader of an emergent education advocacy organization, has apologized for recent remarks in which he brought the behind-the-scenes political activity leading up to the passage of a major Illinois law front and center.

Speaking at an Aspen Institute event on June 28, Edelman offered an expansive and detailed account of efforts by his group and others to build support for Senate Bill 7, a sweeping measure that tied teacher advancement to performance.

He described his group’s political outreach and negotiation with a cast of players across the Illinois political establishment, including House Speaker Michael Madigan and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. But his remarks angered teachers and others in Illinois, who saw Edelman’s words as full of braggadocio, and dismissive of unions, as he spoke of Stand for Children’s efforts to overcome labor’s skepticism, and in some cases outright opposition, to the proposal.

"[A] stunning series of half-truths and tall-tales,” the Illinois Education Association said of Edelman’s account.

Amid a wave of criticism, Edelman, the son of civil rights and children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman, later offered a broad apology.

“I deeply regret what I perceived in watching myself as an arrogance in my tone,” he wrote. “This underlies the other critiques and is the most difficult thing to admit, but it’s also the most important thing to hold myself accountable for if I’m to be worthy of the leadership role I’m fortunate to have.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.