SUBSTANCE ANALYSIS: April Chicago Board of Education meeting showed complete disconnect between current leadership of Chicago's schools and Chicago reality

The latest empty chair at a meeting of the Chicago Board of Education may simply have been symbolic, but it was telling. Another example of the great unravelling of all the myths being pushed relentlessly by Chicago's rulers may have been the fact that the President of the Chicago Board of Education, a multi-millionaire who only runs in the city's most wealthy and privileged circles, kept quibbling with every speaker who disagreed with his policies.

Chicago Teachers Union recording secretary Michael Brunson (center, in red shirt) took a minute outside the chambers of the Board of Education to stand in solidarity with the members of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) who had just stood up and warned the Chicago Board of Education to stop union busting, teacher bashing, and privatizing Chicago's public schools. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Or perhaps it was the fact that virtually every parent, teacher, and community leader who spoke was ignored or denigrated by the pompous popinjays who presently preside over the public schools of America's third largest school system, while the people who were doing the prattling and have the power were displaying both their arrogance and ignorance with just about every Power Point slide and every quibble on April 25, 2012, when the Chicago Board of Education met for the tenth time since the current 11 members (and its "Chief Executive Officer," the oleaginous Jean-Claude Brizard) since it was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, beginning with a slew of media events in April 2011, a month before Chicago's rookie mayor was inaugurated in a carefully staged show held in Grant Park and funded by Rahm's corporate sponsors.

One observer suggested that if this keeps up, every Chicago teacher and every Chicago public school is going to look like a NASCAR car, only without the sense of humor. The arrogance and ignorance of corporate America were on display for three hours during the April 25, 2012 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education.

This essay is a critical analysis of what took place at the Board on April 25. The complete Substance report will be published and on line here by Saturday, April 28, 2012. But this analysis couldn't wait.

The most obvious thing about the April 25 Board meeting was that it saw the fewest people sign up to speak during public participation since the "new" Board was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and assumed power at its first meeting on June 15, 2011. But it was probably better for most of the hundreds of people who had been coming to speak out at the Board that they hadn't bothered to stand in line (again) for hours (again) in order to speak for only two minutes (again) and then have their intelligence and commitment insulted by seven people who know less about the city's public schools and children than the average CPS teacher or parent.

The chair once occupied by "Chief Education Officer" Noemi Donoso was empty throughout the April 25, 2012 Board meeting. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The Board has decided to announce that its meetings will begin at 10:30, but stall the public participation part until as late as possible. In the case of the April 25 meeting, the public didn't get a chance to begin speaking until well into the afternoon, as the Board preened and posed for more than an hour prior to the first members of the public (two of whom were very patient aldermen).


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