MEDIA WATCH: Crain's Chicago Business notes growing arrogance of Brizard, Rahm's Board of Education

From the Chicago locker room to the Capitol cloak room to the corporate Board room, Rahm Emanuel's testosterone-juiced arrogance has always known few boundaries. Rahm's recent success (with not so subtle White House backing) in winning the mayoralty in Chicago has only made it worse. No surprise here, but it's becoming interesting that some of Rahm's closest capitalist buddies are trying to warn him that he's better rein in his macho spasms before it's even more too late that it's fast become.

A bit longer than most picket signs, the sign above, carried during the June 22, 2011, protest outside the Chicago Board of Education meeting, said it all for many of the more than 1,500 teachers, students, community leaders, parents and others surrounding the Board that day. Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber.While the Chicago Tribune predictably is praising (both directly its editorials and indirectly in its choice of what it tries to pass off on the public as school "news"), there is growing confusion in some of Chicago's other corporate media about how to spin the current Board of Education stories in the direction of corporate "school reform." While all the city's print media (except Substance and Reader) still narrate mayoral control and an appointed school board as inevitability (sort of like the old theory of the Divine Right of Kings we learned about in history when history was still taught in school), other aspects of the Reign of Rahm over Chicago's public schools are getting a bit more critical interest.

Take the notice at the blog at Crain's Chicago Business — run by politically influential reporter Greg Hinz. On June 24, 2011, Hinz noticed that Chicago's education bureaucrats (and by implication, Mayor Emanuel's "schools team") were making some major mistakes. Among these were (a) Jean-Claude's quarter million dollar annual salary; (b) Jean-Claude's bonus (?), which could be as much as $37,000 per year; (c) Tim Cawley's residency waiver; and (d) Rahm and Jean-Claude's silly notion that teachers should make home visits. Among others.

Just to take one example the Crain's gets a tiny bit wrong. As Substance reported a year ago (and since), residency attacks on teachers and other school workers are one of the ways the Inspector General of Chicago's public schools avoids investigating the kleptocracy that grew up during 24 years of Mayor Richard M. Daley — sixteen of which found Daley directly controlling schools.

Although Crain's and other corporate media tried to miss it, on June 22, 2011, Chicago Teachers Union teachers and their supporters ringed the block of downtown Chicago bounded by Adams St., Dearborn St., Monroe St., and Clark St. during the protest outside school board headquarters at 125 S. Clark St. Above, the crowd of protesters at the corner of Adams and Dearborn, more than a block from the entrance to the Board at 125 S. Clark St., at the height of the well organized protest. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.In May, 2010, the Board of Education passed more than 80 warning resolutions against teachers.

At the time, (then) Board member Norman Bobins told Substance that they were all for "residency."

But none of our colleagues has to take the blacklisted word of a Substance reporter for these facts. (Yes. Chicago's education press corps has been blacklisting Substance in that courageous way Woody Allen depicted in his movie about the Hollywood Blacklist of the 1950s, only here today the blacklist has lasted longer and there is a kind of shamelessness to the media's approach).

But back to facts, which we note daily are usually lacking in the official Pravda-like version of "news" in this town. The huge number of residency Warning Resolutions were listed as Board Reports in the May "Action Agenda" of CPS. They run from EX16 through EX96 (yes, we counted, trying to get any accurate information from CPS back then — when Ron Huberman was CEO — or today — when the guy Rahm like to call "JC" (as if to taunt some believers) is CEO — has always been a challenge. But the URL for those Board Reports comes through the "Action Agenda" of each Chicago Board of Education meeting, and that particular residency deluge (which we noted as a Guinness Book or World Records effort at the time) is easy enough to locate, even for a reporter/blogger (like Hinz) who never bothers to go to a Board of Education meeting and who tends to take the word of CPS officials for the Truth. Anyway, by our count that's 80 EXs from May 2010 at That's a lot more than the official version of reality than Crain's apparently got access to. Here is what Hinz wrote:

Brizard fumbling away high ground in looming city schools war (by Greg H. at 6/24/2011 3:34 PM CDT on Chicago Business)

While Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis was on a well-earned vacation one year after she took office in a historic upset victory, the rest of the CTU leadership was leading the protest at the June 22 Board meeting — and taking the union's critique of corporate politics and business as usual to the heart of corporate Chicago. Above, CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey spoke to part of the crowd of more than 1,500 teachers and others (including many children) who protested against the Board's violation of the unions' contracts and the mayor's attacks on public schools and teachers. Substance photo by Graham Hill.Like two boxers warily circling each other in the first round, the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's new schools team have spent the past month studying their foe, jabbing each other in expectation of a bigger clash to come.

New Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard ought to hold the high ground in that fight. With Chicago teachers well-compensated and underworked — at least according to the standards elsewhere — he ought to have solid public support in making cuts that will dare the teachers union to strike.

But Team Brizard risks bumbling away that support if it continues strewing public-relations banana peels in its own path.

So far, there's been a bunch.

Start with the fact that Mr. Brizard will be paid $250,000 a year — $20,000 more than predecessor Ron Huberman — plus up to another $37,500 in bonuses if he hits certain performance standards. Those facts emerged just as the board of education was approving his plan to cancel 4% raises for teachers — and a few days before Mr. Brizard suggested also eliminating the step increases that most teachers get.

Eight days before the massive protest against Rahm Emanuel's hand picked Board of Education, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis (above, in red dress) spoke to hundreds of teachers and other supporters of real public schools in the shadow of the Tribune Tower prior to the "education" portion of the massive Stand Up Chicago! demonstrations on June 14, 2011. Like most of Chicago's corporate media, Crain's Chicago Business (which had recently featured one of Chicago's wealthiest oligarchs, a Pritzker) has been missing the fact that the majority of teachers (and others with a true stake in the city's remaining real public schools) don't think it's a cool idea for Chicago's mayor to appoint a billionaire heiress (with pretensions of "entrepreneurship" as if she had bootstrapped her way up in a plutocratic Race To The Top) to the Chicago Board of Education. The massive marches (there were three) on June 14 converged at Chicago's Hyatt Regency Chicago (owned by several Pritzkers, two of whom sit on its Board of Directors). The teachers and other marchers knew the relationship between the Hyatt Hotels, the other Pritzker corporate interests, and the plight of Chicago's underfunded schools. Substance photo by Graham Hill.Mr. Brizard isn't the only one getting paid more than his predecessor. So are several other folks, including even the media spokeswoman. And while all surely are qualified, the news provided an instant platform for union President Karen Lewis to talk about how, at $187,585, she'll earn $38,000 less than her predecessor.

Then there was the episode in which schools Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley got a two-year waiver so he can continue to live in Wilmette. Even though 10 teachers were fired last year because they lived in the suburbs and dozens of other school officials were forced to move under threat of termination.

Mr. Cawley is a nice guy and cited family reasons. And those 10 teachers didn't have reasons?

The latest stumble came on Friday. That's when, in suggesting that each teacher visit student homes several times a year, Mr. Brizard shrugged off complaints that some neighborhoods are pretty dangerous.

The kids make it to school, Mr. Brizard said. He added, "As a teacher, I visited schools. I visited homes. I worked in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It was not a cupcake neighborhood."

No, it isn't. And sending a big, strapping guy into a bad neighborhood — Mr. Brizard is around 6-foot-5 — isn't exactly the same as expecting a typical teacher to regularly travel into the same areas.

According to the state, 76.6% of Chicago Public School teachers are women. I guarantee you they average closer to 5'5" than 6'5".

There are reasons and explanations for all of the above, many of them good. For instance, on paper, home visits sound really, really good.

But as a matter of practical politics, you rarely get anywhere asking other folks to do what you haven't, or holding them up to an unfair comparison.

Rahm Emanuel got to be mayor by being incredibly focused on message. If the mayor's schools team wants to tame the budget and the teachers union, it's going to have to do the same.


June 29, 2011 at 10:31 AM

By: Anton Antoszek

What do you get?

What do you get when the people ignore the actions and rhetorical legerdemain by the house honky/negro while campaigning for the presidency? You get charter school lapdog arne skunkan, race to the slop mendacity, bailouts for the banks with no accountability, unshared sacrifice. and scumbag governors from christie to quinn cutting living wage jobs and benefits and or giving tax breaks to corporations, and rahm hey man you suck.

What do you get when the people vote twice for the house honky who initiated two illegal and immoral wars based on lies and trashed civil liberties to boot? You get a pile of bile who really stole two elections and left no doubt in the minds of decent people how these ignorant, lying, thieving, and murdering scum operate.

What do you get when you use the excuses that the game is rigged in springfield, that the ctu could not walk out of negotiations in protest to anti-union provisions in SB 7 because the legislators would draft something more anti-union and crush the ctu? A 75% strike requirement only effecting the ctu, giving principals more power to fire teachers, blithely disregarding all sense of fairness and justice. Like the house negro at McClellan.

If might makes right is truly the way of the world, then that belief circumvents any codified law. If life isn't fair is of ancillary importance to the above than anything goes in a fight as long as you get first and Chicago teachers have certainly been hit first.

By the way, I refuse to write the aforementioned bullying, lying thieving, and murdering scum names as proper nouns. One of many ways one can protest these reprobates and the only respect they deserve outside of the right to live. As long as they respect the peoples right to live.

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