Sections:

Article

BOARDWATCH: Rahm Emanuel's BIG LIE about CPS budget 'cuts'... Brizard, Emanuel and CPS said they were cutting 'bureaucracy,' when in fact they were cutting security as gang threats at schools were growing

Since the beginning of the summer of 2011, following the Board of Education's claim at its June 15, 2011 meeting, that it didn't have the roughly $100 million needed to pay the raises to unionized workers, representatives of CPS and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have been going around town claiming that they "cut" enormous amounts of money from the so-called "CPS bureaucracy." Depending upon the day he was making the claim, Emanuel would state that his "team" at CPS under Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard had "cut" as much as "$400 million" from the "bureacuracy." I personally heard Emanuel make this claim on several occasions, including one at which I asked his Press Secretary, Chris Mather, to email me the details of the claim. She fielded the question to the newly appointed (at $160,000 per year) CPS "Chief Communications Officer" Becky Carroll, who repeated the claim but refuse to provide details.

Shirley Howard told the Board she had a grandchild at Manierre Elementary School, where classes were oversized and cuts had hurt the children. One of the things she told the Board members is that the children at her granddaughter's school were not allowed to have books for certain classes because there supposedly wasn't enough money for books. When she asked the Board members to sign the pledge to ask that TIF funds all be restored to the schools instead of remaining at the discretion of the mayor, she was met with stony silence. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Since then, while Emanuel has talked a big game about "transparency" in government, CPS has simply repeated the most mendacious talking points about cutting bureaucracy, while in fact the new CPS administration had continued an older trick, one first begun in 2010 by former CEO Ron Huberman. In early 2010, at the time he was beginning to escalate his lurid "deficit" claims for the Fiscal 2011 school year (the claims ended with Huberman stating that CPS had "faced" a "deficit" of one billion dollars in the Audited Financial Report for Fiscal 2010), Huberman presented the public with Power Point slides that claimed he was cutting "Central Office" and "Citywide" people to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

What Huberman left out in that year's version of the lie was that "Citywide" were all teachers and others (from nurses to psychologists) providing services to children. Because the Chicago reporters who cover the news simply repeat the lies of whichever CEO is in power, those claims only received serious scrutiny from Substance and budget researchers at the Chicago Teachers Union (one of whom is this reporter). Mary Kay Feeny told the Board that progress being made by her son, a special education student at Healy Elementary School, had been ended when CPS cut her son's Special Education Classroom Assistant. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.At the beginning of the budget cycle for the 2011 - 2012 school year, new Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard and his budget "team" escalated the same lies to new heights, repeating over and over, often with the mayor saying the same thing, the lie about cutting $400 million in "administration" or "bureaucracy." And while TV news crews simply reported those words, which were so far from the truth as to be outrageous examples of the "Big Lie" theory, the facts on the ground became even more dangerous.

As school enters it second month, speaker after speaker at the September 28, 2011 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education reported to the silent seven members of the Board that cuts in security, special education services, and other services were endangering children in the face of gang violence and jeopardizing the thin status of CPS that keeps it in compliance with federal guidelines on special education services.

Three speakers at the September 28 Board meeting who reported the results of those cutbacks were far from talking about expensive "bureaucrats." Two were security assistants whose jobs had been cut just as gang dangers were increasing at Kelvyn Park High School on Chicago's northwest side. A third was the mother of a child whose special education aide had been cut, endangering the child's flimsy recovery from disabilities. A fourth was a grandmother whose granddaughter is being told that there aren't enough books to go around at her elementary school.

Below are the testimonies of those people from the Board of Education meeting.

TESTIMONY OF FRANCISCO PEREZ, FORMERLY SCHOOL SECURITY AT KELVYN PARK HIGH SCHOOL.

Good morning. My name is Francisco Perez, and I am an SEIU Local 73 member.

Francisco Perez told the Board that his security position had been closed at Kelvyn Park High School just before the beginning of the school year, and that a gang shooting in the park adjacent to the school had taken place during the time when Kelvyn Park students were practicing for sports. Perez said that the elimination of the security aides who knew the community made it easier for the gang problems to develop without the school knowing. The night before Perez spoke to the Board, Mayor Rahm Emanuel took part in a publicity stunt at a nearby park in supposed opposition to the gangs, while Emanuel's CPS "leadership team" was cutting security in the schools and endangering the community's young people, while lying to the public and telling the press that cuts of people like Perez were "cuts in bureaucracy." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Two of my three children go to Kelvyn Park High School. My kids' education and safety is important to me, and that’s why I became a security officer at Kelvyn Park. Their future depends on having good, safe schools. I take pride in preventing violence and working as a role model for the kids in the community.

I was shocked when 4 of my fellow security officers and I were laid off. More importantly, I was concerned for the safety of all the kids I protected when I was there.

Two weeks ago, there was a shooting outside the school at Kelvyn Park Park, where Kelvyn Park students were practicing sports. I feel that incident could have been prevented or handled better if my co-workers and I were still working security at Kelvyn Park. Our neighborhood school is very concerned about this and I am as a parent. I think we should all feel responsible for the safety of these kids in our neighborhood schools.

Board of Education President David Vitale ignored the budget realities of CPS when he dodged the questions raised by Feeny, Howard, Perez and Lopez at the Board's September 28 meeting. Not one member of the Chicago Board of Education has raised a critical question about the Board's and mayor's claim that CPS has "cut" $400 million in "administration and bureaucracy" since June 2011. Like his Board counterparts, Vitale was appointed in May 2011 by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. At his first Board meeting on June 15, 2011, Vitale voted to eliminate the raises due in the fifth year of the contracts to all eight CPS worker unions, based on the now debunked claim that CPS would not have the $100 million it supposedly needed to fund the raises. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Not just me as a security officer, but you, who are in the position to make those changes. I went to a meeting at my school where more than 40 teachers extended their support and petitioned the principal to give us our jobs back. If children don’t feel safe in their schools, how can they focus on learning? In my experience working at CPS, I know that every worker has an impact on our kids for a better future. These cuts will not make our children’s futures secure, so please put all workers back to work and put our $435 million in tax dollars back into the school for our kids future. Thank you very much.

BELOW HERE ARE THE REMARKS OF KELVYN PARK HIGH SCHOOL SECURITY OFFICER JOSE LOPEZ

Hello. My name is Jose Lopez and I am an SEIU Local 73 member.

I am a laid-off security officer that worked at Kelvyn Park High School. It was my job to keep the school drug- and weapon-free, and to be a role model for kids who just need someone to listen to them.

Two of my children graduated from Kelvyn Park High School, but my youngest will not. She is too scared. Five of 12 security officers were laid off, and now the school is less safe, so she had decided to go to a different, safer school.

Like Francisco Perez, Jose Lopez (above) was cut from the security team at Kelvyn Park High School. Teachers at the school signed a petition asking that the security people be restored, but CPS has made the cuts claiming that Lopez, Perez and others were cuts from "administrative" bureaucracy, as mandated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.I started as a volunteer, but I was hired because I was able to reduce the amount of fighting in the locker rooms. Who will stop the fights if we are put out of work?

How safe will our children be if there is no one to look out for them? How will they prepare for their future if they cannot focus on learning?

Declare a surplus and give us back the $435 million in taxes taken from our schools. That is the only way we can make sure our Chicago Public Schools are a safe place for our children.

BELOW IS SHIRLEY HOWARD'S SPEECH FROM THE SEPTEMBER 28, 2011 MEETING OF THE CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION.

Hi, I’m Shirley Howard and I’m a member of SEIU Local 73. I’m also the grandparent of Alexis Randle. Alexis goes to Manierre Elementary School. She is my grandbaby. I love her, and she means a great deal to me.

I want my granddaughter to have a good education so that she has a good job and succeed in life. At Mainerre Elementary School she has to share books because there aren’t enough in the classrooms. She can’t go on field trips because there isn’t enough money in the CPS budget. And she can’t go to afterschool tutoring because the program has been cut!

She doesn’t mind going to school longer—she just wants her teachers to be paid fairly and have more support. But more importantly, she wants her education to be better. This includes having good afterschool programs, books for every class, and being able to go on field trips.

It makes me feel sad knowing she has to go through this. I didn’t have to go through this. When I went to Manley Elementary, there were books for every student; there was a teacher and a teacher’s aide in every class. This allowed the teacher to have more one on one time with the students. And I could go on field trips that were essential to my learning and go to afterschool programs that helped me with the subjects I was struggling in. I want my granddaughter to have these same opportunities.

CPS needs to invest more in these schools. It’s not like the teachers aren’t trying, they just need more equipment and support. David Vitale, I know you care for our children’s future, so please stand with us to declare a TIF SURPLUS so that the $435 million of our school tax dollars can go to our children for a better education and life.

David Vitale, will you sign this pledge requesting the city release the $435 million of our schools’ tax dollars to save our children and invest in them as our future?



Comments:

September 30, 2011 at 8:55 PM

By: Barbara Javaras

Layoff of good teachers

I was apart of the layoffs , told to reapply but my position is not posted in the bulletin. Today position were posted but nothing match my job duties and responsibilities.

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at substancenews.net. We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

2 + 2 =