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Race Hustling on the U-46 School Board Part iV
Last week, we presented evidence of the corrupting, incestuous relationship between U-46 Trustee Traci O’Neal Ellis and former superintendent Jose Torres. Along the way, we were again forced to wade into the toxic racial identity politics that animate much of what O’Neal says and does because she and Torres are cut from the same cloth.
Though we have a great distaste for the subject matter and a healthy wariness of the landmines found therein, we must press on in order to demonstrate how pervasive this identity politics pathology is at the highest levels in U-46, and beyond. Fortunately, the targets of our criticism need not be strictly racialized, as are the world views of Ellis and Torres, who see things through the prisms of a black woman and Hispanic man, respectively. Current U-46 CEO Tony Sanders—who is noticeably white—has found multiple ways to bring further shame and to do further damage to our school district, proving that anybody, of any race, can be a race-hustler as long as they lack integrity and seek to gain personal advantage.
Under Torres’s superintendency, Sanders served as chief of staff. When Torres quit U-46 to take the reins at the Illinois Math and Science Academy, our school board promoted Sanders to CEO. Under Illinois law, however, Sanders was not qualified for the superintendent job. So, Ellis and her like-minded peers also hired retired District 300 Superintendent Kenneth Arndt to serve as a part-time superintendent—a highly-compensated figurehead who could pop into district headquarters to sign official documents that Sanders, by law, was unqualified to sign. Odd, though.
Why would Ellis and company go to such lengths to elevate Sanders into this unorthodox arrangement and incur redundant administrative personnel costs, inefficiencies, and potential blowback from the electorate? The answer is quite simple: Sanders is a team player. By this, we mean that Sanders is willing to dance on the end of Ellis’s string, perpetuating her divisive racial politics no matter what the effect upon our students, teachers, parents and society. He is further willing to disregard truth and fairness along the way.
Don’t take our word for it, though: You can watch the man in action earlier this year by visiting www.examinerpublications.com. There, you will find a link to a video of him speaking at the Black History Family Festival last year and engaging in a breathtaking exercise in pandering, deceit and self-abasement. His topic is “structural racism,” and his apparent purpose is to offer an apology from white America to black America, and to fuel anger and resentment in the latter group. Angry and resentful black voters are, after all, good for Traci O’Neal Ellis at election time. In his speech, Sanders offers dubious facts and figures to support his claim that structural racism is a fact of life in Illinois, and right off the bat he masterfully virtue signals to the crowd his racial bona fides: “This is why I can’t sleep at night.” We shudder to think at how restless he would be if his bed were not feathered with a quarter-million tax dollars every year.
Turning back to his speech, though, we offer a few examples of his dishonesty in the service of racial pandering. He cites as proof of structural racism the unequal consequences of Illinois funding shortfalls for various school districts—U-46 versus Barrington and St. Charles—asking rhetorically: “Is that fair? Is that a form of structural racism?” The lie built into this inflammatory claim is that U-46 receives proportionally far greater funding from Springfield (as well as Washington D.C.) than do Barrington and St. Charles—a disproportion that partially correlates to each district’s minority population. Here are the real numbers: Barrington and St. Charles receive only 7.8 percent and 8.5 percent of their respective budgets from the state, whereas U-46 gets 27.1 percent of its budget from the state. Such a racial spoils system—the kind that Ellis ceaselessly promotes—creates a dangerous sense of entitlement all the while the money is rolling in, but if that revenue stream slows, even proportionally: Racism! Facts be damned.
Sanders also claims, without offering a shred of evidence (because he has none), that Illinois education cuts paid for “correctional officers and court reporters,” and asks again: “Is that a form of structural racism?” Read the pervious sentence again to ensure that you did not miss the shocking racism that Sanders accidentally reveals because it is a textbook example of the real and pernicious racism that the Traci O’Neal Ellis types perpetuate. The only way for Sanders’ audience to agree with his point is to accept the racial divide implicit in his formulation—a divide that is preposterously illogical and racist. His meaning, most obviously, is that black people are the target of increases in corrections and courtroom spending because, after all, they are the criminals (or are they the hapless targets of racist police?). Meanwhile, Sanders would have his black audience believe that when all 40,000 of our district’s students suffer funding cuts, the secret legislative intent is a brilliantly disguised racist maneuver to punish black students—the entire 6.3 percent of the U-46 student body they represent. What nonsense from the number one man in our school district.
Circling back to the “racist police” parenthetical, above, we put it there for two reasons. First, racist police would be Sanders’ defense to our charge of implicit racism in his formula (i.e. prison is where black people live). Second, Sanders elsewhere betrays his Ellisesque anti-police, Black Lives Matter sentiments. Later in his speech, he offers and then bemoans a statistic that starting correctional officers and starting teachers both earn $42,000 annually, and in doing so he reveals much about himself. As a man unqualified to hold the job of superintendent, Sanders derides correctional officers for needing “only” a high school diploma or G.E.D. While The Examiner values and respects the work of our teachers, we point out that correctional officers work 12 months per year. They also face the very real threat of injury or death every day they spend inside the walls of a prison. So, as Tony Sanders gathers a million dollars over his first four years as CEO of U-46, he will have the luxury of fretting about structural racism through sleepless nights in his very safe, comfortable home—all the while begrudging third-shift correctional officers the $170,000 they earn during those same nights, over those same four years, a fraction of what Sanders will make in just one year. Perhaps, like Ellis, Sanders is simply speaking his truth. Perhaps, like Ellis’ hero Colin Kaepernick, Sanders dismisses law enforcement officers as “pigs.” More likely, Sanders is just hopelessly out of touch and arrogantly contemptuous of the people who put that roof over his head.
Sanders’ slight-of-hand and racial pandering, however, is not limited to economic complaints, such as getting fewer of our tax dollars to spend running a half-billion dollar district that has students falling farther behind in meeting state standards every year they attend U-46. He is happy and willing to wade into any subject that stokes racial resentment in his audience (which includes his number one fan, Traci O’Neal Ellis). For example, he asserts that the fact that “African-Americans in Illinois have the highest infant mortality rates” is further evidence of structural racism. How that sad statistic is the fault of non-blacks, the Illinois General Assembly, or a statue of General Robert E. Lee—Sanders doesn’t say. What’s the difference though? The point is that black people must be victims so that politicians like Ellis and Sanders (he is unmistakably a politician) can ride in to their rescue, year after year, generation upon generation—even though, according to Ellis and Sanders, things have scarcely improved since South Carolina seceded from the Union.
Yet these race hustlers keep dividing us, keep making false promises, keep getting elected, keep holding onto the highest positions of bureaucratic power, and keep making asinine statements such as this Sanders gem: “Black History Month should not just be a month. It should continue to be a year-round discussion in our community.” Really, Tony? If we talked about it any more than we already do, we wouldn’t have time for weather forecasts and sports scores. Why is this so? Because it pays. For the low price of self-abasement, Sanders has achieved job security and wealth as head of U-46 while remaining unqualified as a school superintendent. How? They changed the law in Springfield just for him: that’s how.
Next week, we reveal how it happened and who owns the two state senators and two representatives who sponsored the bill to keep our schools’ CEO in a position to abet, among other things, the racial machinations of Traci O’Neal and those four benevolent, bill-sponsoring legislators in the Illinois General Assembly. (HINT: Their patrons are the same folks who filled the campaign coffers of Traci O’Neal Ellis). We will also dig a bit deeper into Sanders’ specious claims to his black audience about neighboring school districts to demonstrate how Sanders and Ellis not only shade the truth, but turn it inside out to advance their destructive racial narrative.