By Aaron Klein
The exact nature and extent of Hillary Clinton’s relationship with radical community organizer Saul Alinsky has long been the subject of speculation and intrigue.
The interest has been largely fueled by Clinton’s suppressed and later released 92-page senior thesis for Wellesley College offering an extensive, largely positive critique of Alinsky and his work.
Now KleinOnline has found that long after Alinsky’s death in June 1972, a group Clinton co-chaired maintained a working relationship with Alinsky’s main community organizing outfit, the Industrial Areas Foundation, or IAF.
The partnership extended into the 1990s and yielded influence over the education policy of the Bill Clinton presidency, it can now be disclosed.
Founded by Alinsky in 1940 and run by him until his death, the IAF is a national community organizing network established to implement Alinsky’s expansive organizing agenda. After Alinsky’s death, the IAF was taken over by his longtime associate and designated successor, Ed Chambers, who became the group’s executive director.
Dick Morris, a former top political adviser to Bill Clinton both as governor of Arkansas and as president, noted to KleinOnline that education reform “is the key issue Hillary Clinton used to propel herself independently to the forefront of Arkansas politics during Bill’s governorship.”
“The revelation of how closely linked her efforts were back in the 80s – and have been since – to an Alinsky radical front group is deeply disturbing and expands our understanding of Hillary’s fundamental radicalism and commitment to the new left of Saul Alinsky,” Morris said.
David Horowitz, whose parents were members of the Communist Party and who himself became a leader in the new left movement of the 1960s and 1970s before rejecting it, said the revelation is significant though not surprising.
“When radicals set out to fundamentally transform a society, the first institution they attack is the educational system which under their influence becomes a system of indoctrination in radical ideas,” he told KleinOnline
The thread of Clinton’s ties to the IAF runs through the National Center on Education and the Economy, or NCEE, a group that helped Bill Clinton reform the U.S. education system.
In 1988, Clinton joined the board of the NCEE, which specializes in education reform. Until at least 1992, Clinton served as co-chairman of the NCEE’s Implementation Commission, the group tasked with implementing the NCEE’s education agenda.
To forge that agenda, the NCEE worked with several listed “partners,” most notably Alinsky’s IAF.
In 1989, the NCEE formed its Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, which carried out an extensive analysis and survey of the U.S. education system, interviewing more than 2,000 people and hundreds of government and private agencies.
The NCEE’s commission in June 1990 released an extensive policy paper with specific recommendations on how to reform the national education system, with Hillary Clinton, then a partner in the Rose Law Firm, serving as co-chairman of the group tasked with carrying out the recommendations.
In 1992, the NCEE created an expansive proposal to the New American Schools Development Corporation, a nonprofit that teamed up with government agencies to reform U.S. schools.
Titled “Schools – and Systems – for the 21st Century,” the NCEE’s proposal listed the IAF as a partner.
“The Industrial Areas Foundation, perhaps the most experienced agency in the United States in the arena of community organizing, will help us think through the parent engagement and organizing issues,” it said.
Clinton implemented Alinsky education agenda?
As co-chairman of the NCEE’s commission to implement its agenda, which was formed with IAF input, Hillary Clinton co-authored an extensive article for the U.S. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
The 1992 article was also authored by longtime Clinton adviser Ira Magaziner, who served on the NCEE’s board and currently works for the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
In their piece, Clinton and Magaziner highlighted the NCEE’s recommendations for how to reform America’s school system.
Many of the recommendations mirror some of the IAF’s longtime goals for education policy.
Alinsky’s IAF, for example, stated in a concept paper that “the entire community must be meaningfully involved in the public education system and held accountable for its results.”
As documented by Discover The Networks, one IAF paper on education calls for teachers and childcare workers to play a larger role in the upbringing of minors.
Stated the IAF: “Schools must be prepared to teach parents how to play a supportive role. In some cases this might mean making provision for parenting education. … Increasingly, schools will find it important to employ social workers who can coordinate necessary services and to intervene on behalf of a child in need. … Schools will need to help working families make provision for after-school childcare, and day care for pre-schoolers.”
To that end, Clinton and Magaziner touted their NCEE’s recommendation for a coalition of schools, the federal government and “local leadership to organize and oversee the new training-to-work transition programs and training systems.”
Clinton and Magaziner call for the establishment of a working group of “federal, state and national government leaders, with business, labor and education leaders” to begin discussions on the implementation of their recommendations.
The pair further advocated that states take responsibility for ensuring students meet proposed new education standards.
The IAF called for employers and taxpayers to help pay for new education standards.
Clinton and Magaziner proposed “all employers will invest at least 1 percent of their payroll for the education and training of their workers.”
Bill Clinton’s education reform
The NCEE yielded enormous influence during the Bill Clinton presidency.
The group was founded and is still run by longtime Clinton friend Marc Tucker. When Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, he brought in Tucker to help oversee restructuring of the state’s educational system.
The NCEE website documents the central role the group played in reforming the education system under Bill Clinton’s two White House terms.
From 1992 to 2000, the website relates, “almost the entire agenda advanced in” the commission’s report, as co-chaired by Hillary Clinton, “was enacted into legislation by the Congress and signed into law by the President (Clinton), including the School-to-Work Act, the National Skill Standards Board, and the Workforce Investment Act.”
Continues the history section of the NCEE’s website: “At the Rose Garden ceremony at which President Clinton signed his signature education legislation, the President departed from his prepared remarks to single out the contribution made by NCEE to the national education reform agenda.”
“Subsequently, many states also enacted policies designed to support the recommendations made in the America’s Choice report,” the website stated.
Clinton and Alinsky
Clinton’s 1969 Wellesley College senior thesis was titled “There Is Only the Fight … : An Analysis of the Alinsky Model.” The thesis received attention when it was released after the Bill Clinton presidency. According to reports, in early 1993, the White House requested that Wellesley keep the thesis confidential and not release any copies.
Clinton was said to have met with Alinsky several times in 1968, when she was writing her thesis. In her most recent memoir, Clinton wrote that she rejected a job offer from Alinsky to instead attend law school.
The Clinton-Alinsky relationship received more media attention last September, when the Washington Free Beacon uncovered direct correspondence between Clinton and Alinsky from the archives of Alinsky’s IAF.
The correspondence dates to the summer of 1971, when the 23-year-old Clinton was living in Berkeley, California, and interning at the law firm Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein.
In a July 8, 1971, letter to Alinsky marked “personal,” Clinton wrote: “Dear Saul, When is that new book [Rules for Radicals] coming out — or has it come and I somehow missed the fulfillment of Revelation?
“I have just had my one-thousandth conversation about Reveille [for Radicals] and need some new material to throw at people,” she wrote, referring to a 1948 Alinsky treatise on community organizing.
Clinton went on to tell Alinsky that she had “survived law school, slightly bruised, with my belief in and zest for organizing intact.”
“The more I’ve seen of places like Yale Law School and the people who haunt them, the more convinced I am that we have the serious business and joy of much work ahead — if the commitment to a free and open society is ever going to mean more than eloquence and frustration,” wrote Clinton.
The Free Beacon’s Alana Goodman notes the letter documents Clinton and Alinsky had kept in touch since she entered Yale and that Alinsky even offered Clinton advice on campus activism.
“If I never thanked you for the encouraging words of last spring in the midst of the Yale-Cambodia madness, I do so now,” wrote Clinton.
Clinton wrote that she missed their regular conversations and asked if Alinsky would be able to meet her the next time he was in California.
“I am living in Berkeley and working in Oakland for the summer and would love to see you,” Clinton wrote. “Let me know if there is any chance of our getting together.”
The Free Beacon reported that Clinton’s letter “reached Alinsky’s office while he was on an extended trip to Southeast Asia, where he was helping train community organizers in the Philippines.”
Alinsky’s secretary, Georgia Harper, sent Clinton the following response, which noted the radical’s fondness of her.
“Since I know [Alinsky’s] feelings about you I took the liberty of opening your letter because I didn’t want something urgent to wait for two weeks,” Harper wrote to Clinton in a July 13, 1971 letter. “And I’m glad I did.”
Harper informed Clinton: “Mr. Alinsky will be in San Francisco, staying at the Hilton Inn at the airport on Monday and Tuesday, July 26 and 27. I know he would like to have you call him so that if there is a chance in his schedule maybe you can get together.”
It was not clear whether Alinsky and Clinton met at that time.
With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott.