Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our Tax Dollars at Work

There's a humdinger of a piece of investigative reportage in Sunday's Chicago Tribune about a whole bunch of $20,000 grants sponsored by State Sen. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago) given to West Side after-school programs that, um, weren't after-school programs:

Powerful Senate Democrats quietly gave out the money to handpicked nonprofits, schools, businesses and churches. The lawmakers funneled the money through the Illinois State Board of Education, which rubber-stamped the choices.

But a Tribune investigation found that nearly half of the 48 groups that got money this past school year were running dubious programs, or declined to show how they spent the money. Only 11 of the grants went to established programs with a history of tutoring or mentoring school-age children...

The state board tried to tighten the grant process after the Tribune first raised questions about it two years ago. But lawmakers and education officials have continued to award the grants.

So, how bad is it?

The oversight remains so feeble, in fact, that education officials in three cases handed out money to programs where felons, one a convicted murderer, worked with children. The state contract bars such convicts from doing so.

Education officials also didn't heed red flags in the applications. One grantee promised to tutor on a "dailey bases," another to teach "fluenty in speaking." [emphasis added]

"Fluenty in speaking" ... reminds me of this.

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