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Huberman and Daley priorities blasted by dozens of witnesses... More than 200 people attend first of three CPS budget hearings at Lane Tech on August 17, 2010

When the first of three public hearings on the proposed 2010 - 2011 Chicago schools budget began at 7:00 p.m. on August 17, 2010, more than 200 people had assembled in the auditorium of Lane Technical High School (above), many of them signed up to speak. As a result of the unprecedented turnout, CPS officials (seated at the far left above) announced that they would not do their prepared Power Point presentation and instead would try to hear from everyone who wanted to speak for the two minutes allowed during the two hour time limit for the hearing. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. More than 200 teachers, parents, students, and community leaders turned out on the evening of August 17, 2010, for the first of three hearings on the Chicago Public Schools 2010-2011 budget at Lane Technical High School. Each of the more than 50 speakers (an exact number was not available at press time) who signed up and testified on the proposed budget was critical of CPS budget officials, Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman (who was not present), and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (who appoints the school system’s CEO and all seven members of the Board of Education, as he has since he was given dictatorial control over the city’s public schools in 1995).

A small number of highly paid CPS executives also scattered themselves throughout the audience but did not identify themselves to the public during the hearings.

Those present included a cross section of the people who work in an use Chicago's vast (400,000 students; more than 650 schools) public schools system. While most of the speakers were teachers, parents, students, and concerned citizens were also present.

Those not present included Mayor Richard M. Daley, Daley's hand-picked "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools Ron Huberman (who was reportedly at his $1 million home a mile from the location of the budget hearings), and the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education (also hand picked by Richard M. Daley).

Any one of the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education (who will be voting on the budget at their monthly meeting on August 25 at 125 S. Clark St).

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis hosted a press conference prior to the August 17, 2010, hearings at Lane Technical High School in Chicago. Lewis was one of six people who spoke at the press conference, including parents, other teachers, and community leaders. Chicago's corporate media ignored the event. Neither of the daily newspapers (Sun-Times and Tribune) were present. No TV reporters were present. Substance photograph by George N. Schmidt.Any reporter from Chicago’s powerful corporate media, who have been reporting since January 19, 2010, that the Chicago Public Schools faced a “One Billion Dollar Deficit” despite the fact that Ron Huberman’s presentations, in Power Point format, did not contain any accurate financial information. Later in the evening, Substance reporter Jim Vail asked the audience whether the Sun-Times or Tribune or any TV reporters were present, and the answer was "No." Those present included WBEZ radio, Substance, the Chicago Union Teacher (and CTU Website), and the Socialist Worker. Substance reporters did not see anyone from Catalyst, the corporate sponsored "voice of Chicago School Reform." No one was present from the Chicago Tribune's blog, "District 299.com."

CPS Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman, who began claiming an unprecedented “deficit” on January 19, 2010, through a series of subsequently discredited versions of Chicago’s schools’ financial reality, each of which was reported slavishly in Chicago’s corporate media, especially in the news reports of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times and on the TV newscasts. Chicago political leaders, including the city’s aldermen and other elected officials who have long supported the mayor and his school board.

Civic leaders, including the heads of the Civic Committee of the Commerical Club, the Civic Federation, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, and the City Club of Chicago, who at various times during the past eight months have hosted budget events for Ron Huberman and who outspokenly support the Board of Education and mayor’s version of reality.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and his senior staff, whose fiscal policies — and extreme right wing philosophy of economics and government (think Alan Greenspan prior to his recent admission that his “Atlas Shrugged” version of economics was wrong — have helped create the conditions that now threaten the fiscal stability of Chicago and its public schools.

The hearing was conducted by CPS budget officials. Above, Christina Herzog (budget chief) and Diane Ferguson (Chief Financial Officer) listen to the speakers during the hearing. Ferguson told the speakers that they could ask questions which, she said, would be answered "on line." CPS budget officials had refused to provide citizens with copies of the budget in print form prior to the hearings, despite the fact that most citizens do not have access to the computer hardware, software and printers necessary to compile the entire set of budget materials CPS had posted on line. The budget in its entirety consists of a book more than 400 pages long and more than 1,500 pages of materials (including the budgets for all the city's schools and the central and district offices) available only on a CD in the back flap of the Proposed Budget. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Many of those present had tried unsuccessfully to get copies of the 433-page printed version of the budget prior to the event. Some of those were able to get copies (which ran out) by arriving early and signing up to testify. As a result of the refusal of the Board of Education to make copies of the budget available at public schools, public libraries, and the city’s aldermanic offices, most of those who came to testify had not been able to review the document before the testimony began.

A complete version of the entire budget (which includes a CD containing more than 1,500 pages of budget information in addition to the printed version the Huberman and Daley administration has been withholding from the public) had been printed out by officials of the Chicago Teachers Union and was prepared by the union in time for the beginning of the hearings. MORE TO COME AUGUST 18, 2010 EIGHT AM



Comments:

August 19, 2010 at 1:50 AM

By: Sarah

Budget hearings

Let's get this straight.

No one who makes decisions regarding the CPS budget is actually at the Budget Hearings. Is that right?

None of the 'major' news media is present. Right?

So this is even more disrespectful of parents, teachers, students and the community than the monthly Board meetings. At least some of the Board members and Huberman show up to these meetings.

Congratulations to all who testified at the Budget Hearings. Unfortunately, it's like a tree falling in a forest. If no one is there does it make a sound?

The iron fist is extremely frustrating.

August 19, 2010 at 8:38 AM

By: xian barrett

The most important audience

Sarah, you have spoken the truth insofar as the purpose of the budget hearings.

That being said, I must emphasize that the best laid plans of hateful despots and their minions are not the absolute power.

Nothing could be further than the truth to say that "no one was there".

The community is there in greater numbers than ever before. We need to stop asking for help and permission from people we know are completely antipathetic to the cries of our children. We need to organize and fight for the future of our schools, our children and our city.

August 19, 2010 at 9:36 AM

By: Chris

Budget hearings

Congratulations.

Teachers,CPS and staff demonstrated their willingness to change.

The only problem is that speakers were poorly prepared.We need to show more knowledge about the process and merit.Hope that we could act effectively and be more organized.

The same with member services.Overworked Kugler,absent field reps and Sara does not answer phone calls from members.Honeymoon is over,folks.

August 19, 2010 at 2:52 PM

By: Nate Goldbaum

Well prepared speakers

Chris, were you at the same hearings I attended?

A few (including myself) made mistakes on minor points of TIF hearings. However, I was *extremely impressed* with the preparations that many speakers had made. Rod Estvan spoke knowledgeably about special education issues and TIF issues. Kurt Hilgendorf demonstrated a great deal of knowledge about the derivative swaps that have spiked CPS's debt obligations. Teachers spoke from first hand experience about the effects of the cuts on classrooms, students and teachers.

As for member services, I know the office has been swamped like never before in the midst of a major transition. Has CTU ever faced more than 1,000 educators suddenly receiving pink slips? This sort of massive violation of our contract? I was in the vestibule one afternoon and overheard a former field rep saying John Kugler has taken on the workload of TWO former field reps. Yes, "the honeymoon's over" because the attacks have come from CPS. But, knowing that these attacks were coming is exactly why we voted in a new leadership. That leadership is doing a pretty great job under very difficult circumstances, imho.

August 19, 2010 at 10:02 PM

By: Chris

Budget hearings

Hello Nate:

Thank you for your response. I would like to eliminate any kind of misunderstanding. I am really impressed by Rod's and Kurt's appearances. Also,I can not find enough kind words to describe actions our leaders and our legal counsel. On the other side,we have to deal with the disorganized office. Many field reps are out and unavailable. John Kugler is working hard but he has his limitations. He will not be able to replace grievance /member services department. My concern is to protect our victory. We have to preserve what we already have. Lack of services will cause massive unhappiness and a possibility to fail. We should not to let our enemies to defeat us,because "us" means our Union. Union is for members and we shall take it under consideration.

August 21, 2010 at 2:00 AM

By: kugler

Proud to Serve Membership

I do not see my days as work but of service to my brothers and sisters, that are in the trenches fighting for their very existence and identities. We are in transition and making sure no one falls through the cracks. We are in the beginning of the reorganization of the union into an proactive organizing force that influences educational policy rather that waits to see what crumbs are thrown at our feet.

Kickin' ass for the working class...

August 22, 2010 at 10:28 AM

By: Jean Schwab

John

I've noticed that John is a fighter for educators,students and parents, so I feel safer knowing that he is now working at the CTU protecting justice. He is a tireless, honest adfvocate who deeply cares about our schools and students. CTU made a good choice!

August 22, 2010 at 10:31 AM

By: Jean Schwab

Spelling

Sorry about the spelling error. John has proven to be an advocate for teachers and students(without pay or praise) for years.

August 22, 2010 at 10:22 PM

By: Chris

John

John Kugler is a honest,dedicated Unionist

who knowingly put his job in jeopardy serving members.

Now is a time to recognize him by those he served.

Thank you,John.

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