Jose Rico has been named the new director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, a key position that could help close the achievement gap between white and minority students. But if his history is any indication, his influence may do more harm than good.
Perhaps most troubling is Rico’s connection to unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and communist radical Mike Klonsky through the Chicago-based “Small Schools Workshop.”
The “Small Schools Workshop” was founded by Ayers and Klonsky. In Klonsky’s words, Rico “toiled in the vineyards at the Small Schools Workshop” prior to obtaining an administrative position within Chicago Public Schools. According to a U.S. Department of Education biography, Rico worked for the Small Schools Workshop some 6 years. Klonsky beamed like a doting father on his website when Rico was appointed to the White House position.
While Rico’s CPSalumni.org bio doesn’t mention Small Schools Workshop, it describes his time in Chicago working as a “community organizer.”
Even after leaving Small Schools Workshop, Rico continued to associate with Klonsky. In early 2009, he appeared on a panel with Klonsky titled “Prospects for Change in the Obama Years.” And Klonsky’s track record would make any American wonder why he’s been allowed to teach in American public schools.
After leading the violent Students for a Democratic Society with Ayers in the late 1960s, Klonsky left to fully embrace his communist roots. Believing that the Communist Party-USA was not radical enough, in 1971, Klonsky founded the Communist Party-Marxist Leninist.
While serving as its chairman, Klonsky advocated for the overthrow of the world’s two superpowers – the United States and the Soviet Union.
Furthermore, his efforts to spread communism in America were lauded in China by Mao Tse-Tung’s successor, Chairman Hua, and Klonsky was honored with a government-sponsored reception. Here is a recounting from the Communist Party’s newspaper, “The Call”:
“Chairman Klonsky’s speech expressed the greetings of the CP(M-L) to Chairman Hua, Li Hsien-nien and the other members of the [Communist Party of China.] He said: ‘We hail the great victory of the people, led by the Communist Party and its wise leader Chairman Hua, in smashing the ‘gang of four’ in one swift blow.
“‘This was not only a victory for the people of China, but for the whole international working class and communist movement. It was a victory in defending socialism against an attempt at capitalist restoration as well as in defending the purity of Marxism-Leninism against revisionism.’
“He pointed out: ‘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 U.S. and Soviet social-imperialism, the main enemies of the peoples of the world.’
“Klonsky stressed: ‘Chairman Mao’s brilliant teachings on the ‘three worlds’ is a scientific application of class analysis to today’s world conditions. This thesis clearly defines friends and enemies and isolates the two superpowers, while uniting the world’s peoples.'”
Incredibly, Klonsky was allowed to be a blogger for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. When his beliefs were exposed by National Review, his blogging privileges were suddenly revoked and all his previous writing was completely deleted. He received the internet equivalent of cement shoes.
Is Rico now trying to scrub his connection to Klonsky and Ayers? Strangely, his LinkedIn account makes no mention of his six-year stint at Small Schools Workshop. It skips directly to his administrative position at Chicago’s Multicultural Arts High School.
Does it matter that an apostle of anti-American radicals like Ayers and Klonsky is now in such an influential position? Is it unfair to judge him by the company he kept for six years of his professional life? Perhaps his academic record will show a positive impact on students and could overcome any shocking associations he has.
Sadly, that’s not the case. During Rico’s tenure as principal of the Multicultural Arts High School, student performance was 584th out of 640 high schools in the state. And despite its low teacher-to-student ratio (less than 14-1) and Ayers/Klonsky-inspired “small school” philosophy, Rico’s school managed to produce a paltry 56% graduation rate. The Chicago Tribune reported the school “did not meet federal education standards.”
Why appoint someone with such a dismal track record to such an important position? Apparently Chicago connections (Rico is also a personal friend of Michele Obama) are more important that his professional performance. Being an apostle of Obama’s personal friends Ayers and Klonsky apparently doesn’t hurt, either.