Rauner's 'crazy' notions get headlines, but ISBE orders will make ISBE a dangerous joke... 'Its a lame-brain idea and a colossal waste of time...' says an anonymous Rahm aide...

After establishing himself as a leader of reactionary forces in Chicago and in the Illinois Senate, Rev. James Meeks (above left) became head of the Illinois State Board of Education. Meeks was appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner (above right) to continue the push to destroy public services, and public education in Chicago. Five years ago, Meeks said the Chicago Teachers Union was a "worst gang" than the Black P. Stones and Gangster Disciples (at least one of which devoted some support to Meeks's career). Although his words still get headlines, the constant proposals by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner have remained further and further from the facts -- and the truth about public schools in Chicago (and Illinois). Factions in the Illinois ruling class are now pushing for a "bankruptcy" of Chicago Public Schools, or the establishment of a new "Chicago School Finance Authority," or some other anti-democratic attack on the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago's public schools.

Over the coming weeks, Substance will continue to publish updates on the Rauner versions of reality as they are applied to public education in Chicago. Among the reactionary models that are being pursued by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner are those currently in power in neighboring states like Michigan (under Republican Governor Rick Snyder) and Wisconsin (under Republic Governor Scott Walker). In addition to looking at Rauner's latest ravings, this article takes a closer look, courtesy of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, at how Republican (emergency manager) plans impact public schools.

Behind Rauner's latest attack on Chicago's schools is an "Emergency Manager" model that, as Detroit shows, will further enrich the banks and financial people by running up additional debt at the expense of public education and educators...

Here are two: The Chicago Sun-Times report on Rauner's February 2 statement, and observations in Crain's Chicago Business...

Sun-Times article on Governors takeover plan, Feb 2, 2016

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday said hes preparing for a state takeover of Chicago Public Schools and has told state Board of Education members to start looking for an interim superintendent for the citys cash strapped school district.

At a news conference in Springfield to discuss legislation that would change the states procurement process, Rauner said hes already told the state Board of Education to begin the process of identifying who can take over as superintendent of CPS.

The states going to be ready to step in and take action, Rauner said a day after the Chicago Teachers Union rejected a contract proposal from CPS.

I asked our administration. I believe its coming. I believe a state takeover is appropriate, Rauner said.

The teachers union on Monday unanimously voted to reject a four-year contract offer, citing a lack of trust and concerns about long-term school funding.

I hope the rejection by the Chicago Teachers Union is a wake up call for the mayor and the taxpayers in Chicago and around the state. The mayor proposed an unaffordable contract. It was unaffordable. It was more kicking the can and just getting by and he was pushing off the day of reckoning and the teachers union still rejected that, Rauner said.

Rauner blamed the union for CPS bad financial habits. He said he hopes the contract rejection pushes a CPS state takeover bill through the General Assembly.

Last month, Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno and Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin introduced legislation to strip Mayor Rahm Emanuel of his control over CPS. The bill would allow the state to seize control of CPS and keep control of it with an independent board until the school distract is out of financial strain.

Rauner said the state is better prepared to strike a deal with the teachers, than Emanuel can, despite not having been able to make a deal with one of the states largest unions, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

We can get a deal done. We are going to get a deal done with AFSCME thats good for taxpayers and fair. We would get a deal done with the teachers union, Rauner said.

He said CPS has been mismanaged by leadership and controlled by the teachers union who has run it for their benefit not for the benefit of schoolchildren and taxpayers.

Emanuels administration scoffed at Rauners suggestion that the state could somehow move immediately to seize control of Chicago Public Schools.

City Hall sources insisted that part of the school code does not apply to CPS and that, to authorize a state takeover, Rauner would be required to pass a bill changing that language to include Chicago Public Schools.

Thats something that Democratic legislative leaders would never allow, the sources said.

Its a lame-brain idea and a colossal waste of time. He needs legislative authorization and everyone knows thats D.O.A. Thats not going to happen. No way. Everyone knew the legislation was dead before he had a chance to introduce it, said a top mayoral aide, who asked to remain anonymous.

Referring to House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, the mayoral aide said, The two main folks who would have to sign off on it happen to be opposed to it and strongly opposed. I dont see them ever coming around to supporting it. And the mayor will never support it.

If Rauner wanted to be productive and helpful to Chicago Public Schools, the Emanuel aide said, Hed stop the theater and focus on an education funding bill that helps the state and CPS.

Cullerton on Tuesday said the CPS bill wont go anywhere.

I thought wed already addressed this. The law doesnt allow him to do that. So its not going to happen, Cullerton said in a statement.

Two weeks ago, Rauner floated his plan for a state takeover of Chicago Public Schools that could pave the way for CPS to declare bankruptcy. A few days later, CPS abruptly put off an $875 million borrowing needed to get through the school year and stave off classroom cuts.

Now, Rauner is doubling-down in his threat of a state takeover just as CPS is attempting to salvage the borrowing and, what appeared to be a tentative agreement on a new teachers contract before the Chicago Teachers Unions 40-person bargaining unit shot it down.

In announcing $100 million in CPS cuts on Tuesday unless a new contract is reached with teachers CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said the school district will move forward with a $875 million bond issue to secure additional funding needed in part due to the ongoing state budget impasse.

The cuts, he said, are sending a very strong signal here we are going to right the ship to the bond market ahead of going to bond market, and the district has what he termed strong interest from investors.

Claypool also got in a dig at Rauners idea to take over CPS, saying the real problem is a funding formula that penalizes the district he called it blatantly discriminatory . . . separate and unequal.

On that issue, Claypool and CTU President Karen Lewis agreed, with Lewis blasting Rauner.

Please dont pay any attention to the ravings of a mad man, Lewis said.

He knows absolutely nothing about real education. So thats a problem.

Rauner also blasted Cullerton over a pension reform bill the governor is supporting, saying Cullerton is doing some foot dragging on the bill and should move quickly.

Procurement reform legislation, supported by Rauner, would change the way the state structures its procurement system. He called procurement one of the largest sources of waste in our state. A procurement reform bill would also allow an audit of procurement every two years and would allow the states Auditor General to perform surprise audits on agencies to make sure laws and statutes are followed. Rauner said the changes would save the state $514 million a year, which could be used for education and social services.


"Detroit Federation of Teachers on Resignation of Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Darnell Earley

DETROITA statement from Ivy Bailey, interim president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, on Darnell Earleys decision to step down as emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools.

Emergency Manager Darnell Earley has abdicated his role and responsibilities as overseer of the Detroit Public Schools. As emergency manager, Earley has shown a willful and deliberate indifference to our schools increasingly unsafe and unhealthy conditions, and a blatant disrespect for the teachers, school employees, parents and students of our city.

His departure, which the Detroit Federation of Teachers, parents and the community have called for, is a step in the right direction. For nearly seven years, DPS has been controlled by four state-appointed emergency managers. They have created both a fiscal and a moral crisis, running up a $515 million debt, running down the physical conditions of our schools, and forcing educators to bear the brunt of the problems with fewer resources and more benefit cuts.

Earleys resignation presents a perfect opportunity for state officials in Lansing to pay off the debt their appointed managers have created and return the Detroit Public Schools to local control. Appointing another emergency manager wont fix Detroits education crisis. Now is the time for DPS to have an elected school board that answers to the people of this great city.


February 3, 2016 at 1:12 PM

By: Jean Schwab

Rauner' threat

One of my friends once cautioned me to; "Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it and pick your battles wisely. He also said that even though you lose all the little battles,you can win the big battle."

This whole situation needs lots of planning.

February 3, 2016 at 1:53 PM

By: Rod Esvan

Vice President Sharkey on WTTW last night

The interview last night with Vice President Sharkey can be seen at

The interviewer was Eddie Arruza which is a bad draw to start with, he was once public information officer for Mayor Richard M. Daley (1990-1991). There is not a lot to disagree with in relationship to Sharkeys performance and much to like about it. For example he hits many details about the problem with rejected contract proposal and he explains the concerns of the members on those issues in a very articulate manner. The Vice President soft peddled disagreements within the CTU which is to be expected given the response from CPS to the proposed contract rejection.

The discussion turned to the CTU announcement that the union was withdrawing $1 million from Bank of America in protest over that banks role in CPS losing money in a swap agreement that was covered extensively in Substance. Basically Vice President Sharkey indicated the union wanted BA to rebate CPS money it made on a swap deal with CPS because they did not disclose the true risks to the district.

Now dont get me wrong I am fine with attempting to get money out of financial institutions for public education, but there is little evidence that Norman R. Bobbins a critical CPS Board member involved in promoting the idea of SWAP deals did not grasped the risks involved in these deals. He was after all Executive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of LaSalle Bank National Association. CPS actually passed a Board Report authorizing the use of derivative contracts in 2008 (08-0827-PO5).

Specifically in the 2008 report CPS notes: Interest rate movements over time could adversely affect the market value of derivative instruments. The market valuation at any point in time will identify whether a termination event would result in a payment by or to the Board.

There is ample evidence that Bobbins fully explained to CPS Board members what they were getting into. There is also ample evidence that Bobbins helped CPS make a bad bet with these swaps as did many financial people when interest rates dropped for a prolonged period of time. There is no evidence that Mr. Bobbins or any CPS official entered into to these SWAP agreements out of naivety.

No one twisted the arm of CPS to enter into these deals, and people like the editor of Substance George publicly raised questions early on about this practice. The problem isnt that CPS did not know the true risks of SWAP deals, the problem was the arrogance of CPS that ignored people like George, myself, Kurt Hilgendorf, and others who raised these issues. I can recall to this day the little smirk on the face of Bobbins when any mere citizens dare challenge the debt strategy of CPS. Those mere citizens were correct and the geniuses on the CPS Board were wrong.

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