IN HIS OWN WORDS, REST IN PEACE BILL BUCHANAN: Teacher dies of cancer after Huberman, CPS get rid of teacher coaches and continue attack on tenure

William Buchanan, one of Chicago's teachers, died last week after a battle against cancer that was made much more difficult because Ron Huberman and those who run CPS took away Buchanan's work, benefits, and — ultimately — life during the cuts of the summer of 2010. Bill Buchanan was one of the teachers (“teacher coaches”) Huberman cut in June 2010 while he was lying to the public, claiming he was cutting central office administrators while in fact he was cutting “citywide” teachers like Bill Buchanan. During the time Huberman was cutting these teachers (and firing them immediately, without even giving them the one-year period in the reserves), the Chicago media were reporting Huberman’s claims — and the ongoing attack on teacher tenure — as if they were based on fact.

One of the most notorious and expensive patronage hirelings of Ron Huberman was Pat Taylor (above right) whom Huberman had made "Chief Operations Officer" (at a salary of $160,000 per year) despite the fact that she knew nothing about CPS or its complex operations. Taylor, who is politically connected, got the job and an enhanced staff, which include outside consultant Sean Murphy (above left, in a photograph taken at the June 23, 2010 Board meeting). Murphy, who served as Chief Operations Officer for years under Ron Huberman's predecessor Arne Duncan, now works as a consultant with an office in CPS headquarters at more than $100,000 per year to make sure that Taylor's mistakes aren't too great despite her limited background, training and qualifications. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Huberman also ended the summer of 2010 with all of the more than 100 political cronies he had hired since his appointment by Mayor Daley in January 2009 still in their jobs. Those jobs were paying between $110,000 and $175,000 per year. It was teachers who were fired, not the patronage people that Huberman kept around him at 125 S. Clark St. — and in the 25 area offices. Teachers were taken out of their jobs, fired, deprived of their benefits, then lied about in the official lies of 2010.

During the time between when he was cut by CPS (without being placed in the Reserve Teacher Pool) and when he died, Buchanan provided this reporter with materials which he asked to be published after his death.


I, William Buchanan, worked for 25 years for Chicago Public Schools with superior ratings each year. I hold a Master teaching certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and I served as a CPS teacher coach for the past two school years.

Bill Buchanan (above at microphone) was one of a dozen teachers who brought the problems of tbe recently fired mentor teachers to the June 23, 2010, meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Buchanan had been notified less than two weeks earlier not only that he had lost his job, but that his medical benefits had been taken away and that he would not be placed in the "reserve" pool, as tenured teachers were supposed to be. While Ron Huberman, CPS "Chief Executive Officer" was firing tenured teachers like Buchanan (and telling a gullible mass media he was cleaning hour by getting rid of "bad teachers") Huberman was keeping dozens of patronage hires he had put into hundred thousand dollar a year jobs, including Sean Harden (behind Buchanan in the above photo, with beard), who was hired by Huberman from a job at City Hall to do a top paying job in "community affairs" at CPS. Harden is still working at CPS as of November 2010. Approaching the microphone behind Bill above is Carol Caref, who took part in CORE protests against the attacks on Bill and other veteran teachers at the June 23 Board meeting and who is now heading the CTU Quest Center following the June 11 CORE victory for the leadership of the 30,000-member union. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.I'm writing you so you can put this story in your files if you or another reporter follow-up on the cover story of about a week ago on Erin O'Brien and another teacher who were fired by CPS from their leadership positions.

I'm also one of those fired coaches.

On June 21, 2010 I was notified that my employment would terminate in nine days with no honoring of my tenure rights.

The consequence of my firing might have special damage in that I'm a cancer patient just starting a chemotherapy treatment in a clinical trial in Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute that will leave me unable to work in the Fall.

It's unclear to me yet if my disability policy — purchased through CPS approximately eight years ago — will be honored if I'm not a current employee. (I have a disability specialist looking over it next week.)

I'm informed that I'll lose all of my sick days unless I get re-hired by CPS within 10 months. I don't know if I'll be able to work within that time frame or not.

During the June 23, 2010, meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, Ron Huberman claimed that he was reducing central office administrative staff, in order to reduce what he claimed was a billion dollar budget "deficit." Huberman got rid of hundreds of teachers working in central office, while keeping every patronage crony he had brought in, at salaries over $100,000 per year, from his time at the Chicago Transit Authority. Huberman then lied to the public and speakers at the school board meetings when challenged about what he was doing. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.I'm losing my group health care benefits in August and will have to pay the COBRA price which is anticipated to be in the $500 per month range just for myself or the $1200 per month range for my whole family (wife and three children).

My employment history with CPS:

I started in 1985 and I've had 25 years of continuous service, including team leader and department chair positions

I earned National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification in 2004

I was recruited to be an instructional coach for the IDS program in the 2008-2009 school year. I served in that position for two years until the firing

The consequence for me not receiving my due tenure rights are:

I lose the group rate for health care and have to pay COBRA which will cost approx. $1500 per month for myself, my wife and our three sons

I lose my accumulated sick days, worth about $6000

There is some question still if I’ll qualify for the CPS group disability policy I’ve paid into for 8 years which would pay me 60% of my salary while I’m in treatment

When I return following my disability I’ll possibly lose my seniority

Also, I'm sorry I can't attend the Tuesday sessions [held at Operation PUSH for the fired coaches], but if there are other things you need — phone calls, rallies, meetings — let me know and I'll participate as I can.

Leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union publicly protested the firing of Bill Buchanan both at public meetings and in the courts, but CPS was able to stall and lie about what it was doing. Above, Lynn Cherkasky Davis, who works at the CTU Quest Center in charge of National Board certified teachers, recounts the lies of CPS at the August 17, 2010 budget hearings at Lane Tech High School. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.I cced Lynn [Cherkasky Davis], the two other members of my team who were terminated, the EDC lead coach and the director of our project in Boston. For those people, John Kugler is the CTU field rep for city-wide employees and is committed to following through on correcting these firings.

Thank you for your reporting on this issue. William Buchanan

Sent: Saturday, July 17, 2010 3:30 PM


November 14, 2010 at 9:42 PM

By: Jim Cavallero

Bill Buchanon

Bill Buchanon was a great teacher. Truly one of the best teachers I ever worked with. We co-taught algebra at Foreman H.S. for few years so I was able to see him in action everyday. I remember at the time I wore glasses and Bill did too. We were also the same hair color and about the same height. Kids would always ask, "Are you guys brothers?" A couple times we actually ran with it for a couple days getting one over on the kids. Good times.

Bill was also a great human being. He wanted the world to be a better place. I had always been a union supporter as a teacher but it wasn't until I met and go to know Bill that I realized teaching was a political act and in turn teachers had to be politically active. I have always remembered that.

We have lost a great teacher, friend of public education and a great human being and father. My prayers go out to Bill's family. He will be missed. Rest In Peace, brother.

November 14, 2010 at 10:22 PM

By: Louis Pyster

Name the Cronies

To demonstrate the extent of the cronyism, it would be useful to provide the names with the positions and salaries of the more than 100 political cronies hired by Huberman since his appointment.

November 14, 2010 at 11:20 PM

By: John Kugler

Fighting Until the End

The last message Bill left for me was that he wanted his family to be taken care of and clear his name.

Solidarity forever!

November 15, 2010 at 12:53 AM

By: Angels Are Always Free

You Were Appreciated

I am sorry to hear of the Death of Bill Buchanan. I always had so much respect for the education field, especially teachers both new and seasoned teachers. It is sad that the last days of Mr. Buchanan life, he may have endured not only the pain of cancer,but the fact the the Chicago Board of Education took away his income, especially his medical benefits. Basically took his livelihood. But I hope he had some happiness in his life knowing he enhanced the life of so many students he inspired in the 25 years of teaching because I know that would be enough to cheer me up even in the worst of times.

I did not personally know Mr.Buchanan, however I do know how hard it is to lose a family member because I lost one of my family members in January.

In heaven he and my sister are truly free and respected forever!

November 15, 2010 at 12:57 AM

By: John Kugler

Buchanan BoE Testimony

Bill Buchanan was one of a dozen teachers who brought the problems of the hundreds fired teachers to the June 23, 2010, meeting of the Chicago Board of Education.

here is a link to his testimony

November 15, 2010 at 9:40 AM

By: Homer Turner

Honoring Bill

Buck as we called him when we worked together at Farragut HS was special. I so enjoyed working with him and the other teachers from ther that connected so well as a group. I am so sorry I had losyt touch with him after moving to Boston. I wish that I had one more chance to talk with him about the CPS situatuion. Buck was committed to have others treated fairly, someone needs to do the same for him and his family.

November 15, 2010 at 10:32 AM

By: Margaret Wilson

Belated thanks to Bill and his family

I wish that I could have talked to Bill and his family and told them how much he meant to all of us both teachers and parents as well as his students. He was very special and will be missed. He made you realize how important teaching is and how important it is to be politically active.

Thank you and WE'LL MISS YOU.

November 15, 2010 at 3:10 PM

By: Kathy Jacobs

This Is What We're Talking About

Every teacher needs to click on to Susan Ohanian's link that George has provided above in "Links" and read "A Declaration of Professional Conscience for Teachers" written in 1990 by Kenneth S. Goodman and updated in 2010. I suspect from what is being said by his coworkers that William Buchanan lived by these principles.

November 16, 2010 at 8:55 AM

By: Amber

Bill Buchanan

This story is enormously tragic and heartbreaking. I didn't know Bill, but I too am a CPS National Board Certified Teacher who was superior ranked annually for nearly two decades and was laid off (fired) in 2009. As I read this, I am literally in tears. Can someone tell me if Bill was ever able to get his chemo treatments in Boston after his benefits ceased? If not, the media MUST BE informed of this outrageousness, caused by Huberman. This is inexcusable, sickening, and must be stopped! Somewhere, there is a media outlet that will report this story, even nationally.

November 16, 2010 at 9:25 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

There is a media outlet... And then there are lies and liars

Normally I wouldn't interrupt this particular thread of Comments, but Amber's comment (above) is moving and very sad, because it helps to show how we got ourselves into this mess (in some ways).

There is a media outlet reporting the truth. You are reading it and should subscribe to it and support it. Along with thousands and thousands of others. The truth comes at a price, as those who would slander and oppress you know well. That's why the millionaires and billionaires are paying that price, dictating the "news" you are fed, and then watching while millions of people spin out of control because there is such a distance between the reality we know and the reality that is brought to us in print, on TV, and elsewhere. Oprah is not even the worst of the corporate propagandists, because at least she's honest about the corrupt point of view she pushes every day, all the time.

One of the saddest things about the current reality of the American plutocracy is that so many teachers believe in their hearts that the corporate media that publishes corporate propaganda, attacking us, will one day start telling the "truth" and reporting the facts if only we can get the right public relations people to bring those facts and our truth to them. For years, we've heard teachers complain that the union just can't get our "story" out and that we should waste money on some "public relations" professionals, or pay thousands of dollars for full-page ads in newspapers that libel and slander us every day in their news columns.

We could equip a school with the price of the phone calls that Chicago teachers have fruitlessly made to reporters at the Sun-Times (going back to when they had more than one writing about education) and Tribune. "Please, Ms. Famous Reporter. Write about our stories," we repeat, like the children in a Dickens novel asking for another bowl of mush.

Many teachers believe that the corporate propaganda mills will one day wake up, publish the facts about the attacks on teachers and public schools, and all will be well again. That's not going to happen. In the USA in 2010, the "news" is slanted in favor of the lies of those in power, and not just in Fox and Muroch's media.

We could suggest that you support the media that do tell our side of the story (Substance,, Labor Beat) and begin rejecting those media, all owned by vicious monopolists, that lie about us -- or repeat the lies of those in power like parrots in the kitchen cage.

The Chicago Sun-Times is owned by Mesirow Financial and James Tyree. The Sun-Times is firmly committed to parroting their party line as "news." Tyree is anti-union, anti public education, and anti public school teacher.

The Chicago Tribune -- across the USA from the Baltimore Sun to the Los Angeles Times -- is worse. Owned by the billionaire Sam Zell, the Tribune is a simplistic propaganda organ playing the same tunes from coast to coast -- charter school lies; teacher bashing lies; and the deification of liars like Ron Huberman and Arne Duncan.

Then there is Catalyst, the whore of the plutocracy's "charity." Catalyst is proof that he who pays the piper calls the tunes. Their silly coverage of the Board of Education's financial lies should have gotten them laughed out of town, but even more amazing is how they have covered each teacher bashing sure-fire final solution to the problem -- for 20 years from Reconstitution to Renaissance to Intervention to Turnaround -- with the same straight face and the same gullible readership.

Please stop waiting for some Wizard of Oz solution. It's not coming.

We're it. And the leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union. And a few independent media. The rest out there are feeding you garbage -- and worse-- and telling you it's honeyed. If you smile and repeat after them, well, we're very sad about that.

Sorry we can't be more comforting at this stressful time, but in some ways we (teachers) have brought some of this on ourselves by believing the American versions of Pravda and the "news" they feed people.

November 16, 2010 at 11:03 AM

By: Amber

Bill Buchanan

George, I appreciate you and Substance and all that you do. In no way did I mean to overlook the wonderful information you disseminate to us each day through this outstanding medium. Only since I've been laid off--and only on occasion since then, have I had the opportunity to read Substance. Monday was one of those rare occasions, and that's when I read the story about BIll. Eighteen months following my layoff, I'm still unemployed and times are very difficult, but do know that I strongly support Substance, have asked others to subscribe to it, and will do so myself just as soon as I can. My concern, however, is that this outrageousness must be made known to the public beyond this readership. All of us, myself included, must do it for Bill. I've shared the story of what happened to him with friends and family and they were angry and shocked beyond belief. Huberman and Daley can't continue to get away with this madness. By every measure, this is far beyond general cruelty and I am very deeply touched by what happened to this wonderful, hard working gentleman.

November 17, 2010 at 12:21 AM

By: Marty Gartzman

Bill Buchanan

Bill Buchanan was a master teacher, well known among CPS math teachers as a thoughtful, dedicated, and successful teacher, and a quiet, effective leader. He was among the best and brightest of CPS math teachers and his loss is deeply felt by the CPS math community.

Two years ago, Bill stepped forward to accept a formal leadership role as a math coach, where his job was to support other teachers as they implemented a new, challenging math curriculum. I was told he was superb in his new role as a coach -- just as he was as a classroom teacher.

We remember Bill for his service, his considerable accomplishments, and his goodness. In a school system that is desperate for math teachers of Bill's caliber and that should be honoring those whose accomplishments match Bill's, he was cast aside tragically without notice, process, decency, or respect. No consideration of 25 years of successful, honored service to the children of Chicago. No consideration that Bill stepped forward when asked -- recruited by CPS curriculum leaders -- to take on a new role as a teacher-coach. No consideration, period. There is no heart, nor soul, nor brains in the clueless former CEO or his robotic minions, whose only plan for "supporting" teachers was to hold their feet to the fire and whose only "legacy" is a sad path of destruction. Bill deserved much more.

Marty Gartzman

Former CPS Chief Mathematics and Science Officer

November 17, 2010 at 10:24 AM

By: Eugene Lee


I was one of the teachers Bill coached. His first year coaching the IDS curriculum was my first year teaching at Amundsen High School. His coaching was absolutely invaluable. Bill was a not only a mentor professionally but offered me personal support and guidance. He really was my teacher, mentor, coach, and big brother all wrapped up in one badass-math-teaching-man. \r\rBill coached me for two years until CPS let him go. We stayed in contact after his dismissal and he still managed to support me this school year. \r\rI would not be who I am today without Bill and I am confident that there are others who can claim the same. God Bless. I already miss you.

November 17, 2010 at 12:36 PM

By: Amber

Bill Buchanan

I have contacted a reporter I personally know and the reporter has read this article and the accompanying blogs and asked if I can get Bill's family's contact info so they can talk with them. George, can you provide me with a number to reach you ASAP so I can give you more details? I refuse to sit idly by while these people continue to destroy others who have given so much.

November 21, 2010 at 2:45 AM

By: Sarah


CTU should investigate how many members who were fired had medical conditions which needed treatment. I keep hearing about members who are/were pregnant, were going through cancer treatments, physical therapy, and other costly medical procedures.

Since CPS is a self insurer, they sure have saved a lot of money by cutting them off.

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