Board continue insulting Chicago teachers and principals at October 24 meeting

Since nobody in the corporate media will report it, and Substance will be posting the stories over the next couple of days, it's important for everyone who was not present at the Board of Education's October 24, 2012 meeting to be prepared to watch the meeting on CAN TV and notice how many times and in how many ways the members of the current Board are insulting every tax paying Chicagoan and every Chicago teacher, principals, and administrator who has bothered to play by the rules of the rest of Illinois.

Peter Rodgers became the latest "Chief Financial Officer" of the nation's third largest school system after working as an executive at Diner's Club. Rodgers was not called upon to present the "Amended Budget" to the October 24, 2012 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. That duty went to "Chief Administrative Officer" Tim Cawley, whose training for the work at CPS came mostly during a career at Motorola. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Barely had the meeting begun, than Barbara Byrd Bennett, the latest iteration of "CEO" at CPS, announced that she had just brough in two new administrators, both from out of town, to make Chicago's schools better. From my count, it's been about a year since the Rahm Emanuel Board has hired any top administrator from within the ranks of Chicago educators. Chicago's teachers and principals are being treated as if we were some Podunk Mayberry place that can't produce anyone competent to run the school system of the nation's third largest city.

Insult was immediately added to injury for Chicago when Byrd Bennet rose to present the new "Budget" (which wasn't ready, actually). Aside: shall we call Byrd Bennett "CEO 4.0" to mark the fact that she is the fourth Supreme Leader to run the nation's third largest school system in two years? That's right: Two years ago, the Supreme Leader was Ron Huberman. Humberman was followed by Terry Mazany. Mazany was followed by Jean-Claude Brizard. And now we have Barbara Byrd-Bennett. The only thing they all have in common is that not one of them has ever or had ever taught one day in a real classroom in Chicago. Whether appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley (Huberman and Mazany) or by Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Brizard and Byrd-Bennett), these outsiders have one thing in common: they demonstrate the contempt for Chicago that the Mayoral Dictatorship has brought to town.

But back to reality.

No sooner had Byrd Bennett arisen to present the "Amended Budget" than she handed the latest Power Point duties over to Tim Cawley, who two years ago was working for AUSL and five years ago was working for Motorola. Cawley, who is "Chief Administrative Officer", was apparently subbing for some guy named Rodgers, who was recently appointed to the post of "Chief Financial Officer." Rodgers, who reportedly comes to his career in education from Diners Club (you can't make this stuff up) sat smiling with a Wall Street smile the whole time, as if the "CFO" was an understudy to the "CAO."

And the millionaires and billionaire on the Board smilingly went along with the whole charade.

Things got a little dicey from the point of view of reality, of course, because the Amedned proposed new improved budget was a fraud. CPS had already "build in" the raises for the CTU workers, so the part about needing another hundred million that Cawley read with his Power Point with a straight face was a lie. The funniest part of all, however, came when Cawley admitted that CPS had screwed up the budget hearings on this iteration of lies by not notifying the public in the legally required timely manner -- so there will be more budget hearings on November 5 and the new next really this one is final budget will be discussed November 5 and voted on at the November Board meeting.

Standing with Cawley, to make the corporate slliness complete, was veteran CPS administrator (currently holding the title of "Chief Talent Officer") Alician Winckler. Winckler, who three years ago was still in that public school talent training camp — in this case, an executive job at Sears Holdings — now qualifies as an expert on education in Chicago.

Even the Board members, who were supposed to just prattle on with pre-planned questions about the danger of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund to the budget (that's where they get that "billion dollar deficit" nonsense that the Tribune and Sun-Times and Catalyst love to talk about; it's not true and it's a year and a long legislative session away), noticed that some things were fishy or downright fraudulent in what Cawley and Winckler were prattling and Power Pointing about.

For example, CPS supposedly will increase "revenue" (see the fifth page of the unpaginated "Amended Budget" Power Point that CPS "communications" officials tried to hide from the public...) by a deal to "Refinance bonds maturing 2013 and 2014 ($42 million)." Since that's the largest amount CPS has listed to make up the lie about needing another $103 million to pay for the CTU contract, that "revenue" needs to be questioned, since it is not really revenue at all, but simply an accounting trick based on the assumption that CPS can make a future generation pay off the debt it's been increasing now.

Penny Pritzker, of all people, has begun to notice the funny stuff and asked how that was being treated as "revenue." But since not one of the Board presenters has any idea of either finance or state laws about such things, the actual answer from Cawley, Winckler, and the Silent Mr. Rodgers was...


Sort of as in "It's not really revenue, but weren't you supposed to talk about how bad things were because of that billion dollar pension thingy...?"

The show on October 24 proved that the Pritzker family was prescient in investing in those Harvard and Stanford degrees Penny got back in the day. At least one member of the Board can read a spreadsheet and also understand the relationship between CPS finances and GASB...

Not that it matters, when as soon as the public's back is turned the Board members once again vote, unanimously and without debate, to hire a new bunch of outsiders from out of town at six-figure salaries — and pay those people "relocation expenses." Next time CPS tells you they're broke, as how many dollars we've paid to "relocate" all those out of towners Rahm's Board has been importing since the precedents were set with the hiring of Jean-Claude Brizard, at the unprecedented salary of a quarter million dollars a year and another $30,000 to get here. That's a lot more than a U-Haul would cost down the street from Substance on Cicero Ave. on Chicago's North Side.

But, then, the policy of the current seven members of the Chicago Board of Education actually reads like this: Chicago teachers and principals need not apply. Sort of like the old signs warning against hiring members of certain ethnic groups. Only in Chicago.


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