Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Public Schools sponsor Christian breakfast to promote CPS push for longer school day and year in Chicago

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel continued his push to force Chicago public school teachers to work longer hours without receiving prevailing pay at a breakfast media event with more than 200 Christian minsters on the morning of August 25, 2011. The event, which took place at U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, was used by Mayor Emanuel and his Chicago Public Schools team to promote the proposal that they have supposedly proposed to the Chicago Teachers Union to lengthen the Chicago elementary school day.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel continued to press for his expansion of the elementary school day in Chicago on August 25 during a Christian breakfast sponsored by Chicago Public Schools at U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. Above, Emanuel speak to the more than 200 pastors and other clerics at the event, which was held in the "United Scout Lounge" at the ballpark. To the right in the above photo are CPS Chief Executive Officer Jean Claude Brizard and CPS chief of "Faith Based Initiatives" Rev. Reynaldo Kyle (looking away). Surrounding the mayor are members of the Kenwood High School Academy Choir, which sang a Christian song. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Under the controversial proposal, first announced by Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard during an August 23 appearance on the public television show “Chicago Tonight,” elementary teachers in Chicago would work an additional 90 minutes per day beginning in January 2012 without being paid the full hourly amount they are now receiving. As of August 24, 2011, leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union have not received the proposal as part of discussions between the Board of Education and the Chicago Teachers Union on possible changes in the current union contracts, which do not expire until June 30, 2012.

The August 25 event was part of the promotion for the CPS plan, which was not made available to the press during the well-attended media event. Another part of the promotion, also endorsed by a number of the clerics, was a demonstration outside the Chicago Public Schools headquarters on August 24, the day of the August meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. At that event, at which three Chicago clergy spoke, dozens of people carried signs that said “90 Minutes and two more weeks.”

The August 25 breakfast was hosted by Chicago Public Schools, which provided the programs and other materials to those who were invited, and also provided the participants with a Christian musical event by the Kenwood High School Choir. In response to a query from Substance, a CPS spokesperson said that the event was not paid for by CPS, but by the "Faith Based Community." At the time of this reporting, CPS has not provided Substance with information on how to contact the "Faith Based Community" that paid for the expensive catering at a time when CPS claims it is facing an austerity budget which required it to refuse to pay the four percent raise guaranteed by union contracts to members of the Chicago Teachers Union and other unions representing CPS workers.

The August 25 event did not mention other faiths than Christian faiths, although the mayor, in his remarks, noted that his rabbi had been asking him where he had been. Emanuel is of the Jewish faith. A CPS spokesperson said that members of other faiths were present during the event, although she did not name them. Substance and other reporters covering the event saw a Christian presentation, Christian speakers, and Christian music.

A little less than half the crowd at the breakfast is shown in the above photograph, which was taken during the remarks by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The program for the event, printed on CPS stationery, called the event a “Faith Based Breakfast.” It was held at the United Airlines Scout Center at U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox.

The Christian breakfast took place one day after many of the same ministers and churches staged a loud demonstration outside the headquarters of Chicago Public Schools. On August 24, the day of the Board of Education meeting, ministers (above) held a press conference demanding the longer school days and year, while their supporters held up printed signs (above). Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The program for the event included a letter from Rev. Reynaldo Kyles, who signed the letter “Office of Faith Base Initiatives, Chicago Public Schools, 125 S. Clark St., Chicago 60603.” Rev. Kyles also provided the participants with his CPS phone number: 773-553-2573.

“Dear Faith Leader,” the letter went.

The complete text of the letter follows in italics below here:

“I would like to thank each of you for your dedication and commitment to partnership with the Office of Faith Based Initiatives. The partnership between CPS and the faith community is much needed as we strive to give our students the best education they can receive. As we approach another school year, I would like to thank each of you for your time that you have given by attending meetings, working with your local schools, Safe Haven and the Adopt a School Program. Your contributions and efforts are greatly appreciated. As we continue out Adopt a School Program we are asking every church to adopt a school and work diligently with the Principal. I would also like to thank every pastor who provided ministerial assistant to CPS student’s families during their time of need.

During his remarks, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel changed the talking points about the length of Chicago's school day from those he had been using since his election campaign. Instead of telling his audience that Chicago school children lost "four years" of schooling by contrast with their counterparts in Houston, Emanuel now is talking about how CPS students get 10,000 fewer minutes in school that what he called the "average" for the USA. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.“As always, the Office of Faith Based Initiatives is here to provide assistance and support to our students, their families, and to you as Pastors throughout the 2011 – 2012 school year. We look forward to your assistance with helping us make this school year a success.”

After Rev. Kyles gave his invocation and a Christian prayer was offered in Spanish by Pastor Silfredo Gonzalez (whom the program said was from "Missioin Christina Familiar"), the group heard from the Kenwood Academy (high school) choir, which sang a Christian song.

Then came Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel has changed his talking points since the mayoral election campaign, when he seemed to draw all of the "facts" he was citing from the movie "Waiting for Superman" and some unverified claims about Chicago's public schools. Prior to the prayer breakfast on August 25, Emanuel had been telling audiences that the average Chicago public school students had "four years" (later reduced in his talking points to "three years") less time in the classroom than a comparable public school student in Houston, Texas.

By August 25, 2011, Emanuel had changed years to "minutes."

Emanuel called on the clerics at the breakfast to issue a "battle cry for our children." He told the group that all over the USA children were in classes for "67,000 minutes per school year..."

Except in Chicago, where Emanuel claims the average public school child only gets "57,000 minutes..."

Emanuel then went through the grades, in the process ignoring the difference between Chicago high schools and elementary schools. He counted down, as if every year from kindergarten through 12th grade represented a "loss" that Chicago children suffered by comparison with the children across the USA. As usual, mayoral press people and others have refused to provide Substance with the studies and other materials that verify Emanuel's forcefully stated claims.

But Emanuel was just getting warmed up. Reprising an earlier statement he made about the teachers getting paid the the kids getting "the shaft," Emanuel shifted gears only slightly. "For too long, the schools have been a battleground for adults," he told the crowd. "The kids have been left on the sidelines." He then thanked the pastors present for supporting him in his drive to get Chicago to have a "longer school day and a longer school year." He accused the "adults" of having "cheated" the kids. [A request by Substance to the mayor's press office for the complete text of Emanuel's August 25 remarks was greeted with the response that he had gone far off the text of his prepared remarks. Substance then requested the transcript of his remarks, which City Hall press people said they would provide. As of the end of the work day on August 26, 2011, Substance had not received it, so we are quoting here from hastily taken notes...].

"Chicago should not lead the country by being at the bottom," he said, to some cheers.

Emanuel's handpicked Chief Executive Officer for Chicago Public Schools, Jean-Claude Brizard repeated the talking points about the city's public schools that he has been using since his first meeting with the Chicago Board of Education on June 15, 2011. According to Brizard, the public schools of Chicago have become a failure after sixteen years of mayoral control under Mayor Richard M. Daley and his school chiefs (Paul Vallas, from 1995 to 2001; Arne Duncan, from 2001 into 2009; and Ron Huberman, from 2009 to late 2010). In every speech, Brizard lists the various reasons why Chicago's schools are "failing."

According to Brizard, the entire purpose of a school system such as Chicago's should be to make children "college or career ready", and the way to measure that is by the national ACT tests.


August 25, 2011 at 5:16 PM

By: Bob Busch

The rev.

The Rev

I wonder if the Rev. Reynaldo Kyles , who wrote the letter is the same

person who I knew as a student at Simeon? I have looked for his bio without success

But if you Google his name it might bring back a lot of memories.

August 25, 2011 at 6:18 PM

By: John Kugler

Seperation of Church and State

Is it legal for CPS to use public money to sponsor a breakfast for preachers? For that matter is it legal to have a department dedicated and spending public money talking to churches? What does CPS have to do with churches?

Maybe I am just a simpleton but no public money is every to be spent promoting or encouraging religious propaganda? I have a funny feeling that this is a an illegal method to influence to up coming contract negotiations with public money, but what do I know:1st amendment?

August 26, 2011 at 1:10 AM

By: Kimberly Bowsky

Religious CPS Board-sponsored breakfast

I don't like government "sponsoring" religion this way. Where was all that piousness when the Mayor, albeit a different one, was dismantling the neighborhoods of these same congregants with REN 2010? I KNOW where the ministers were. Now the protesters are being misled once again by clergy, a mayor and CEO who are bent on resegregating their kids between charter schools and public ones, while they hold up signs begging for their own shackles through undeveloped, cost-cutting ideas.

August 26, 2011 at 10:33 AM

By: Neil Flanigan

Is Father Pfleger the only priest in Chicago?

How long is it going to be until Chicago stops acting like Rev. Michael Pfleger speaks for all Catholics, and has the right to be the only priest pictured during the publicity stunt yesterday at Sox Park? (See the Sun-Times of August 26, 2011). From what Substance reports, and the photographs at Substance, the majority of religious leaders in Chicago were excluded from Rahm Emanuel's breakfast. Why? Doesn't the new leadership of CPS know that diversity means there are many religions and faiths in Chicago, and to limit the event to Christian clerics (apparently from only part of the city), while excluding most Christians and all Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindu, and other major faiths looks a lot like political manipulation? Has anyone investigated whether the clerics who are pushing the CPS line against the CTU are being rewarded with City of Chicago and other contracts and favors, as Pfleger's St. Sabina's has long been?

August 26, 2011 at 11:34 AM

By: J. Whitfield


You are right Neil, ecumenical is the key word here. Concerned with establishing or promoting unity among churches or religions.

Combine this with a workers movement, anti-war movement, or civil rights movement, etc.,

and now you're cookin.

Please take note of the 130 mi. trek farmworkers are walking for 13 days from Madera to Sacramento. Yes, those who pick our fruit and vegetables.

Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)" is a protest song with lyrics by Woody Guthrie detailing the January 28, 1948 crash of a plane near Los Gatos Canyon, 20 miles west of Coalinga in Fresno County, California, United States. The crash occurred in Los Gatos Canyon and not in the town of Los Gatos itself, which is in Santa Clara County, approximately 150 miles away. Guthrie was inspired to write the song by what he considered the racist mistreatment of the passengers before and after the accident. The crash resulted in the deaths of 32 people, 4 Americans and 28 migrant farm workers who were being deported from California back to Mexico.


The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting,

The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;

They're flying 'em back to the Mexican border

To pay all their money to wade back again

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,

Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;

You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane,

All they will call you will be "deportees"

My father's own father, he waded that river,

They took all the money he made in his life;

My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,

And they rode the truck till they took down and died.

Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,

Our work contract's out and we have to move on;

Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,

They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,

We died in your valleys and died on your plains.

We died 'neath your trees and we died in your bushes,

Both sides of the river, we died just the same.

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,

A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,

Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?

The radio says, "They are just deportees"

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?

Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?

To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil

And be called by no name except "deportees"?

August 26, 2011 at 9:27 PM

By: John Kugler

Union Busting #27 - Taxpayer-financed Union Busting

Taxpayer-financed union busting – Tactic #27

During the 1960s, low-paid workers at nonprofit hospitals formed unions and demanded recognition. Major American cities experienced a series of hospital strikes, some of which were violent. Hospital workers and labor leaders insisted that the NLRA be amended to cover employees at nonprofits, and by 1974 President Nixon had signed such a law. In 1979 Congress investigated a backlash against new union organizing resulting from that law and learned that public money was often used to pay for union busting activities, some of which were brutal or illegal.[50]

A substantial amount of fees paid to union busters had come from the federal Medicaid program, even though union busting is not an allowed fee. In spite of prohibitions, the hospitals managed to finance union-busting costs by packaging them with training costs. A hospital watchdog agency in Massachusetts ordered six hospitals to reimburse Medicaid $250,000 for anti-union campaigns from 1974 to 1976.[51]

State laws at one time sought to prevent taxpayer funds from being awarded to union busting corporations through government contracts. One such law, passed in Wisconsin in 1979, was struck down by the United States Supreme Court in the decision Wisconsin Dept. of Industry v. Gould.[52] The 1986 Supreme Court decision means that it doesn't matter if the punishment for illegal behavior under federal labor law is limited, those punishments are the maximum allowed and states cannot eliminate such companies from government contracts. Critics charge that, in effect, "federal labor law forces states to hire unionbusters."[53]

Also in the 1970s, the Department of Defense partially financed union busting by its contractors. Such activities appear to be illegal, for they conflict with the NLRA.[54] In 1998, Catholic Healthcare West, the largest private hospital chain in California and a major recipient of state Medicaid funds, conducted a campaign against Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Sacramento and Los Angeles at a cost of more than $2.6 million. After the Catholic Healthcare West campaign, the California state legislature passed a law prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds for anti-union activities.[14]

However, in a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America et al. vs. Brown, Attorney General of California et al., the court ruled 7-2 that federal labor law pre-empted a California law that limited many employers from speaking to their employees about union-related issues. Justice John Paul Stevens stated that Federal labor law had embraced "wide-open debate" about labor issues, as long as the employer did not try to coerce employees into accepting its point of view. Consequently, the state law is incompatible with federal labor law.[55]

Other efforts to restrict the use of tax dollars for union busting have also been struck down. A major recipient of state Medicaid funds, the Center for Cerebral Palsy in Albany, New York, hired a law firm to fight a UNITE organizing drive. In 2002 the State of New York passed a labor neutrality act prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars for union busting. The law was passed as a direct result of the campaign against UNITE. In May 2005, a district court judge struck down the labor neutrality law in a ruling that the legal representatives of the Center for Cerebral Palsy described as "an enormous victory for employers."[14]


[50] Confessions of a Union Buster, Martin Jay Levitt, 1993, pages 72-73.

[51] Confessions of a Union Buster, Martin Jay Levitt, 1993, page 151.

[52] See: Retrieved June 17, 2007.

[53] Smith, Robert Michael (2003). From blackjacks to briefcases: a history of commercialized strikebreaking in the United States. Athens OH: Ohio University Press. pp. 179. ISBN 0821414666.

[54] Confessions of a Union Buster, Martin Jay Levitt, 1993, page 151-152.

[14] "The Union Avoidance Industry in the United States", British Journal of Industrial Relations, John Logan, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, December 2006, pages 651–675.

[55] [Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America et al. vs Brown, Attorney General of California et al., Oct. 2007]


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