Union leaders' confusion about criminal CPS leadership continues in statement about indictment -- and guilty plea -- from Barbara Byrd Bennett... CTU President 'wishes schools chief well in continued legal battles'... CTU statement ignores three years of crooked greed at the top of CPS...

Disgraced former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett was denounced for her crimes by virtually everyone who cares about the city's public schools following her indictment by federal authorities on October 8, 2015. Only the Chicago Teachers Union, in a statement by union President Karen Lewis, expressed sympathy for the crooked bureaucrat who closed 50 schools and added an unprecedented amount of privatization and charter schools during her brief three years in Chicago. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The strange sage of the soft words from some members of leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union about the tenure of Barbara Byrd Bennett, disgraced former "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools, got even stranger on October 8, 2015, following the indictment of Byrd Bennett by federal authorities. The feds' announcement that Byrd Bennett would probably plead guilty to the charges outlined in the 43-page indictment handed down by the U.S. Attorney was also made on October 8. Instead of denouncing the expensive illegal behavior of the former CEO (and some of her cronies), the statement sent to some of the union's members and the press late on October 8 was sympathetic to Byrd Bennett.

The CTU statement, which quoted CTU President Karen Lewis, was even in contrast to statements by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who appointed Byrd Bennett CEO of the nation's third largest school system in October 2012, and Byrd Bennett's successor, Forrest Claypool.

"While we wish Mrs. Byrd-Bennett well in her legal battles..." the statement from Karen Lewis began, the union did not denounce the illegal behavior for which Byrd Bennett is now expected to plead guilty in federal court. Nor has the union president mentioned the millions of dollars in cronyism and privatization schemes that characterized the nearly three years when Byrd Bennett was at CPS, first as a "consultant" (from February to October 2012) and then as CEO (from October 2012 through May 2015).

The activities for which Byrd Bennett is now facing federal prison were in fact the tip of an iceberg. During her time as CEO of America's third largest school system, Byrd Bennett increased privatization and charterization at virtually every meeting. And at the Board meeting just prior to the infamous vote to give SUPES Academy a $20.5 million no-bid contract, Byrd Bennett had moved that the Board close 50 of the city's real public schools -- the largest mass school closing in American history!

During the years she was in power, beginning virtually as soon as she became CEO, Byrd Bennett made it a practice of hiring out-of-town educators for the top jobs at CPS, usually paying them expensive "relocation fees" and in some cases "signing bonuses" as well as their six-figure salary packages.

While many in the union (including this reporter and reporters for Substance) regularly criticized these practices, the union's president at times actually stood before the Board and complimented Byrd Bennett and her cronies.


One of the dozens of bureaucrats brought into Chicago from out of town by Barbara Byrd Bennett during her time as CEO of CPS was Tracy Martin Thompson (above). Martin Thompson was approved as "Director of Strategic School Supports" at a salary of $170,000 per year by a vote of the Board of Education without discussion or debate at the Board's December 2012 meeting. The motion to hire Martin Thompson, who came from Ohio, was made by Barbara Byrd Bennett, and the Board Report hiring her made no mention of the meaning of "Strategic School Supports." In addition to voting to pay Martin Thompson $170,000 per year, the Board also voted to pay her $5,000 for "relocation expenses" without ever asking why CPS needed to bring in Barbara Byrd Bennett's many cronies from out of Chicago (and out of Illinois). Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.CTU Statement on Indictment of Former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett

CHICAGOChicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis issued the following statement today regarding reports of criminal charges filed against former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett:

The circumstances surrounding the indictment of the former CEO are unfortunate and mark a sad day for the leadership of our district. While we wish Mrs. Byrd-Bennett well in her legal battles, the Chicago Teachers Union remains fully and unequivocally committed to securing a fair contract for our members and ensuring their ability to properly serve the public school students and families in the city of Chicago.


The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 27,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information please visit CTUs website at


Even Rahm Emanuel was not as confused in his statement on the indictments as Karen Lewis is.

In a brief press release that came from the Mayor's Press Office, Emanuel didn't try to cover up the criminal reality. Of course, Emanuel tried to use the space to tout his unproven claims about the "success" of his leadership team(s) who have been in power at CPS since June 2011.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. October 8, 2015. CONTACT: Mayors Press Office



"I am saddened and disappointed to learn about the criminal activity that led to today's indictment of Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Our students, parents, teachers and principals deserve better. Together, we have made significant educational strides at CPS with rising graduation rates, test scores and attendance and our commitment to building on that progress remains as strong as ever."

Similarly, the latest CPS CEO Forrest Claypool, tried to spin the story in the direction of the unaudited claims of success at CPS since Emanuel took over.

On October 8, 2015, Claypool sent an email to everyone who works at CPS. Most teachers, principals and other school workers received and read Claypool's self-serving statement on Friday, October 9, as they were also reading the news, front page in the city's daily newspapers, that Byrd Bennett had been indicted and would probably plead guilty (and possibly seek a deal for a lesser sentence by blowing the whistle on other corruption at CPS?). As of the beginning of the weekend, CPS parents [of whom this reporter is one] and students had not heard from Claypool.


From: Communications, Internal

Date: Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 4:36 PM

Subject: A Message from CEO Forrest Claypool

To: Group-CPS-ALL

Dear CPS Colleagues,

As you may be aware, former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she will plead guilty today for acts that occurred during her time with Chicago Public Schools.

In light of today's news, I want to take a moment to thank you for your continued hard work and dedication to our nearly 400,000 students. The personal and dishonest actions of the prior CEO should not deflect attention from the consistent academic gains produced in recent years through your hard work, the dedication of parents, and the hard work of our students. CPS will continue, as it does each day, to focus on providing all of our children with a high-quality education that prepares them for success in college, career and life.

Below is the official CPS statement on todays events.

As always, CPS is focused on the nearly 400,000 Chicago children who rely on CPS for a quality education, and we will continue to help our students achieve their potential and build on their academic gains.

?Forrest Claypool, CEO, Chicago Public Schools


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