It's Jean-Claude who 'walked away from the table'... Astroturf Four steer away from criticisms of Chicago's quarter million dollar schools 'CEO'

Although there will certainly be others who join the chorus of attacks on Chicago's teachers on behalf of the nation's billionaires and millionaires as the 2012 strike draws closer because of the intransigence of the Chicago Board of Education and Mayor Rahm Emeanuel, it's likely that the most highly subsidized of the "Astroturf" groups purporting to represent parents and what's best for the children during the coming months will be those Substance will dub the "Astroturf Four" — Advance Illinois, Black Start Project, Democrats for Education Reform, and Stand for Children. All are highly subsidized by the wealthiest individuals, families, and corporations in Chicago, and each is willing to parade itself as representing the true interests of the "children" against the greedy interests of the union and the teachers. All are also "Astroturf" (i.e., phony grass roots) groups with a proven history of serving their masters with slavish devotion.

Just as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard were under the watchful eye of one of the Noble Street Charter Schools propaganda posters during the mayor's infomercial for the charter group on December 16, 2011 (above), so Brizard is never allowed far from the man who made him the highest paid schools chief in Chicago history. Not only has Brizard avoided the bargaining table, despite all the prattle about its importance, but he has distinguished himself during his first year in office by his avoidance of the give-and-take of press conferences with real reporters. Instead, under the watchful eye of the two most expensive propaganda departments in the city's history (Mayor Emanuel's press office and the CPS "Office of Communications") Brizard is usually kept at events where the mayor is clearly in charge of his appointees and puppets. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.As the month of the strike authorization vote begins, it's important for teachers to begin to understand the Orwellian (and other) roots of these groups and how they operate in the public domain.

So we will begin June 1, 2012 with their first major talking point — "Everyone should get back to the table..." Etc. Etc. Etc.

The truth is that CPS has never been to the table.

While Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, the union's other three elected officers, and a large number of union members (representing virtually every group of workers represented by CTU) have been "at the table" since as early as August 2010, the top executives of CPS itself have never — as in not once — been "at the table." So if the Astroturfers want to demand that someone be "at the table," they should be asking Jean-Claude Brizard, the highest paid public schools executive in Chicago history, why he isn't doing his job if it's so important to negotiate this contract.

Chicagoans could do a kind of "Where's Waldo?" with Brizard. Since he was hired a year ago (at an annual salary of a quarter million dollars per year, $50,000 per year more than Arne Duncan was making when he was appointed U.S. Secretary of Education a mere three years earlier by the President of the United States), Brizard has distinguished himself in many ways, but two of the most dramatic are:

1. Brizard has refused to sit down with the union leadership and bargain this all-important contract (he's left that job to a couple of underlings and an outside lawyer who's been paid more than a million dollars in the past 12 months alone!)...

2. Brizard has refused to hold even one open press conference where he can be asked question without the mayor and others keeping an eye on him...

Teachers, parents, and others concerned about the current situation could begin by demanding to know why Brizard is not "at the table..." and also why Brizard is paying an outside lawyer hundreds of thousands of dollars a month to do the negotiating for him.

But that's not likely to be part of any Op Ed or public statement from Advance Illinois, Black Star Project, Democrats for Education Reform, or Stand for Children.


June 1, 2012 at 7:47 AM

By: Jay Rehak

Teachers need to ask "Mr. Brizard to "Join us at the table."

Your point is well taken. I hope teachers, educational support personnel and administrators throughout the City continuously ask Mr. Brizard to "join us at the table." The four groups you mentioned probably won't ask, but we all need to do so. We should ask the question in a professional manner, but we should ask and ask and ask... Don't know if they'll publish it, but I'll commit to writing to the various news outlets in this town and ask them why Mr. Brizard isn't part of these important discussion. I'll also try to ask at Mr. Brizard's next "Town Hall."

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