The script is now public... Blueprint for Byrd-Bennett's 'rightsizing' attack on Chicago schools was published by her Broad Foundation colleagues four years ago as 'School Closure Guide -- Closings Schools as a Means for Addressing Budgetary Challenges'

Since Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd Bennett first claimed that there wasn't enough time to hold hearings on the guidelines for preparing for closings in 2013, more and more Chicago teachers, parents, and students have noticed that Byrd-Bennett and subordinates seem to be working from a pre-prepared script. Even the carefully orchestrated jargon that was being used -- "right-sizing," "underutilization crisis", and of course the completely ridiculous "billion dollar deficit" -- had an unreal quality when put before any group of Chicago citizens.

First, there was a "Commission", supposedly independent, that was going to make recommendations to the CPS CEO after "hearings." The hearings and the "Commission" obviously backfired on Byrd Bennett. Night after night, large crowds, some more than 1,000 people, showed up for the hearings and instead of meekly going along with the script offered by Commission officials, demanded to speak -- all of them. Also, during the days of the "Commission," a distinct feature of public meetings on the closings emerged: Barbara Byrd Bennett and the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education made sure that they were not present as the public spoke.

Then, at hearing after hearing, parents, teachers, students and community leaders saw CPS officials try and her them into "focus groups" that were so transparently a ploy to manipulate "consent" that in most of the hearings they were thwarted.

Although the Broad Foundation's "School Closure Guide" was removed from the Broad Foundation's website after Substance reported that Barbara Byrd Bennett had received a dispensation from Board policy to continue working for the Broad Foundatioin, a copy of the full 83-page document has been located by Substance and provided to the leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union and community leaders. And from the time CPS officials (aided by lobbyists for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and spearheaded by State Senator Iris Martinez) first achieved the agreement for the delay from the Illinois General Assembly in the time requirements for the Chicago school closings during 2013, the suspicions about how the public was being manipulated have grown. After all, in October and November 2011, Rahm Emanuel's school board and school administration (then, the CEO was Jean-Claude Brizard) CPS was able to follow the Chicago Facilities law and hold hearings and announce a list by December 1, 2011.

Yet suddenly, in 2012, there was "no time" for the hearings, and apparently no ability on the part of CPS to develop the list for 2013. With the support of the majority of lawmakers and Governor Pat Quinn, CPS was able to get an extension of two legal requirements.

The first requirement was that CPS had to announce the 2013 closing list by December 1, 2012.

The second requirement was that CPS was supposed to announce a ten-year "Facilities Plan" by January 1, 2013.

Suddenly, it was as if everything had to be done over. But why? Because Barbara Byrd Bennett had come to town? Because Jean-Claude Brizard had been forced out of office by the mayor (and provided with a "golden parachute") and therefore CPS had been born again, as if through a religious experience.


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