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CPS PURGE SEXIST? Why did Vitale and Ruiz dump some of the women who were part of Barbara Byrd Bennett's 'inner circle' of out-of-town cronies -- but, as of the July 4 weekend, none of the guys?...

The July 2015 purge of several of the out-of-town cronies of Barbara Byrd Bennett was reported in the Chicago press on July 3, 2015. Sherry Ulery, who was brought to Chicago to become a "chief of staff" (there are a number of these) by Barbara Byrd Bennett from Ohio was gone by the Fourth of July 2015. But most of the others -- including all the men who brought the school system to the edge of destruction -- are still with CPS. Above, Sherry Ulery (left) and Tim Cawley (right) are seen during the May 28, 2014 Board of Education meeting, one year ago. But as of July 2015, Ulery was finally gone, but Cawley, equally an outsider, albeit from Illinois, is still in power as the "Chief Administrative Officer" (at $215,000 per year) as CPS. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Shades of Donald Trump or some benighted Republican? Rahm Emanuel and the obsessively politically correct bunch surrounding him being male chauvinist?! Given that Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel is obsessive about making sure that every time he appears in public he's surrounded by what we call "Rahm's Rainbow", the recent purge of top officials at Chicago Public Schools puzzles. As reporters who've followed the mayor since his return to power in Chicago in 2011 know too well, by the time the cameras are turned on, "Rahm's Rainbow" is firmly in place and smiling like a bunch of fourth graders at a birthday bash.

"Rahm's Rainbow" -- like paid protesters and the careful scripting of "Chicagoland" -- is all about Hollywood, and the look. "Rahm's Rainbow" is the designated array of males and females, minorities and others all with their own place to stand behind the mayor when the TV cameras roll. And so we must wonder on July 3, 2015 why the latest purge of central office's oddly titled, undercompetent, and overpaid administrators stopped with some of the out-of-town women who were imported by Barbara Byrd Bennett -- and none of the out-of-town men?

And, of course, why are the two powerful guys who voted for every hiring of these unqualified mercenaries -- Board President David Vitale and Board Vice President Jesse Ruiz -- still in power in America's third largest public school system.

Ohio's Tracy Martin Thompson (above during the April 23, 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education) worked as part of Barbara Byrd Bennett's cadre of executives until she was dumped by David Vitale and Jesse Ruiz in July 2015. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.As Independence Day eve begins and the fireworks blast all over Chicago, one question is: Why did CPS dump Sherry, Rosemary, Tracy, Paulette, Rhonda and Leaura -- BUT NOT David, Jesse, Jack, John, and Bob...? (And some others).

But the public was never told why Chicago needed the expansion voted on by the Board, month after month, during the years since Rahm Emanuel appointed its first Board of Education in May 2011. They just did it, without explaining the reasons for education of the children of Chicago, they just did it.

One example from the array of recently deposed cronies of Barbara Byrd Bennett was Tracy Martin Thompson, who was hired by a vote of the Board of Education in December 2012. At its December 2012 meeting, the Board voted to hire Tracy Martin Thompson as "Chief of Strategic School Supports" at an annual salary of $170,000. No member of the Board of Education asked why Chicago was inventing a so-called "Office of Strategic School Supports." Like dozens of other votes taken by the Board members during the years since David Vitale became Board President and Jesse Ruiz Vice President, they simply voted to do it. Martin Thompson came to Chicago from Ohio in 2012, as the Chicago Sun-Times reported (years after this was first reported in Substance) at an annual salary of $170,000. The "Office of Strategic School Supports" was never defined. It simply came into existence, like dozens of others.

John Baker, the "Chief Accountability Officer" of Chicago Public Schools, was hired in December 2012 on the recommendation of Barbara Byrd Bennett. Above, Barker is shown delivering a Power Point to the August 2014 meeting of the Board. Previously, Barker had worked as a school administrator in Memphis, Tennessee, where his "accountability" model was the Tennessee "Value Added Measurement" (VAM) system used to fire teachers based on test scores. The Tennessee VAM system was so ridiculous that it even resulted in a send up on Comedy Central, by John Oliver. The hiring of Barker and his controversial background was never once publicly questioned by David Vitale, Jesse Ruiz, or any of the members of the Board of Education who voted to hire him. Barker was hired by a unanimous vote of the Board at its December 2012 meeting. His salary was set at $175,000 per year; the Board also voted to pay him a $5,000 "signing and retention bonus" and $10,000 in "relocation expenses." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.David Vitale's career, first as the CPS "Chief Administrative Officer" and currently (since May 2011) as President of the Board of Education provides a living example of why the "business model" for running schools is bankrupt.

These men and women were not hired because of success they had demonstrated in business. In reality, they were a group of believers, expanding a kind of secular theology which utilized the ideology of "business" but in fact simply practiced a dictatorial model of governance that ran against the entire history of American public education and the democratic governance of public schools.

Vitale's financial ideology left Chicago Public Schools with the greatest debt in its history, hardly a model for how to soberly run a "business." What did happen was that other "business" people did quite well. The fees of bond buyers and the lawyers who organized the bond sales increased in every year of Vitale's rule increased. The schools were constantly deprived of resources. And massive privatization was really what the Vitale Board members were ready to impose on America's third largest school system.

Vitale's claims to be using the "business model" of "school reform" actually prove that corporate school reform is as organizationally bankrupt as the schools might become if Vitale's programs continue.

The mystery of how Chicago discovered that a Memphis Tennessee bureaucrat named John Barker was the best guy to be "Chicago Accountability Officer" of the nation's third largest school system might have asked Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Above, Barker (right) was caught talking with Beth Swanson, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's special assistant for education, during the March 26, 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Barker's appointment, approved by a vote of the Board at its December 2012 meeting, was made by a unanimous vote of the Board despite the fact that the Tennessee method of "accountability" -- the "Value Added Model" (VAM) -- is a national joke even featured by comedian John Oliver. But after some of the women who formed Byrd Bennett's inner circle were purged in early July 2015, Barker remained as CPS "accountability" chief. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. One of the many hires brought to Chicago from out-of-town was John Barker, who was brought to Chicago on the recommendation of Barbara Byrd Bennett and approved by Vitale's vote in December 2012.

At the December 2012 Board meeting, Barker was made CPS "Chief Accountability Officer" for the nation's third largest school system at an annual salary of $175,000 per year. None of the members of the Board of Education questioned the out-of-town hiring of Barker on the public record at the time. And none then or since has challenged the notion that Barker's experiences in Memphis were the best thing for Chicago. Even as the Tennessee "Value Added" version of evaluating teachers has been debunked across the USA, Barker remains in charge of "accountability" at CPS as Independence Day 2015 arrives. The Board members were apparently so anxious to acquire Barker that they also agreed to pay him a "singing bonus" of $5,000 and "relocation expenses" of $10,000.

The idiocy of the Tennessee VAM "model" has been exposed for years, but it persists because it is a matter of faith among the ideologues of corporate school reform. The Tennessee "model," so ridiculous that it provided laughs to Comedy Central's John Oliver, has been debunked for several years in books and articles. The most recent article published by the Teachers College of Columbia University is available during July 2015 at the Teachers College website.

One of the earliest guys in the entourage of Barbara Byrd Bennett was Robert Boik, who had worked in Detroit with Byrd Bennett, was brought to Chicago at the same time Byrd Bennett was hired, by a vote of the Board of Education's seven members, as a consultant in early 2012. Boik received the title "Chief of Staff," putting him among several chiefs of staff at CPS. The original idea for the "chief of staff" came from Napolean and derives from a military model (a general can establish strategy, but the "staff," under the "chief of staff," had to work out the infinite number of details required to bring a large military force into play). It was only with the bizarre militarization of school governance in America's cities via the "business model," that public school systems, instead of being run by elected school boards and superintendents, came under the rule of "Chief Executive Officers" who immediately militarized the structure of governance throughout the system.

Chicago was the first major system to become militarized under the so-called "business" (but really military) model. When the Illinois General Assembly passed the "Amendatory Act of 1995" to change Chicago's schools, the three locations of power in Illinois were all controlled by Republicans. Both houses of the General Assembly (the Senate and House) were controlled in 1995 by Republicans. The Governor, Jim Edgar, was also a Republican. But the Democratic Mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daley, split the Democrats (and some so-called "progressives") and joined to get dictatorial control over Chicago's public schools.

Originally, the change was touted as a "business model," based on the theory that business leaders knew better how to do things than teachers and trained educators who went on the become superintendents. But as subsequent history has proved, the "business model" was really a military model. The first "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools was not a business leaders, but a political hack and National Guard Major, Paul G. Vallas, who had been serving Richard M. Daley as Daley's budget chief. Daley also appointed another political hack, his chief of staff Gery Chico, as President of the Chicago Board of Education. Under the provisions of the Amendatory Act, Chicago's school board was not the "Board of Education" any longer, but an entity called the "Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees."

Under Vallas and Chico, neither of whom had ever been in business, let alone a business leaders, the "business model" and the jargon of late 20th Century American corporations took over. And with it, "chiefs of staff" proliferated.

The appointment of Robert Boik as "Chief of Staff" to the "Chief Executive Officer" in March 2012 is one of the mysteries of recent CPS history. Boik had been a crony of Barbara Byrd Bennett in Detroit, but the recommendation to the Board of Education in Chicago to make Boik "Chief of Staff" came from Jean-Claude Brizard, who in March 2012 at the time of the hiring was still CEO. Within nine months, however, Brizard, the first outside of Chicago CEO hired by Rahm Emanuel's Board, would be ousted, following the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012. And Barbara Byrd Bennett, who became a consultant while Brizard was still in charge, would become "Chief Executive Officer" by October 2012, while Boik would remain "Chief of Staff" to the "Chief Executive Officer." And so, eventually, Bob Boik, who had never taught in Chicago and who, like so many others, had no legal certification to teacher or administrate in Illinois, was hired, by the Chicago Board of Education, to be a "Chief of Staff" at an annual salary of $170,000. Boik also received $12,000 in "relocation expenses" by vote of the Board of Education's seven members. The Book appointment as "Chief of Staff" to the "Chief Executive Officer" in March 2012 is one of the mysteries of recent CPS history. Boik had been a crony of Barbara Byrd Bennett in Detroit, but the recommendation to the Board of Education in Chicago to make Boik "Chief of Staff" came from Jean-Claude Brizard. Brizard in March 2012 at the time of the Boik hiring was still CEO, even though rumors had begun that Rahm Emanuel was displeased with Brizard's performances, and a number of the original members of the Brizard "team" (also mostly out of towners) from June 2011 were leaving or had left Chicago (or at least CPS).

Anyway, by April Fool's Day 2012, CPS had a guy working for it as "Chief of Staff" to the CEO. Within nine months, however, Brizard, the first outside of Chicago CEO hired by Rahm Emanuel's Board, would be ousted. Brizard's ouster came following the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012, which Emanuel reportedly blamed on Brizard, even though to the rest of the world it was clear that Emanuel's rants and policies had provoked the strike.

And suddenly, Barbara Byrd Bennett, who had become a consultant while Brizard was still in charge, would become "Chief Executive Officer" by October 2012. Robert Boik would remain "Chief of Staff" to the "Chief Executive Officer."



Comments:

July 5, 2015 at 1:13 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Sexism in Schools

The recent purge of women executives is just another example of the sexism that has been present in the Chicago System probably since it started. Most elementary teachers are female with limited opportunities to earn extra money is very limited especially since summer school became severely limited. Most high teachers are male and they can bring their salaries up to three digits by coaching and other before and after school programs. The purge is just a bit more blatant

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