BOARDWATCH: The first anniversary of 'Rahm's Board'... Board of Education members ducking public, chanting cliches and repeating from scripts

Ultimately, for a public lie to be legal, and expensive, it has to be approved by a vote of someone somewhere. What came to be "SB7" in the Illinois General Assembly had to begin with the cynical but well-funded campaign by Stand for Children, Advance Illinois, and the Civic Federation of the Commercial Club of Chicago to push legislation (very similar to the union busting templates provided by ALEC across the USA) that would effectively make it "impossible" for the Chicago Teachers Union to strike. But between the ALEC wordings, the energetic work (especially by Advance Illinois's Robin Steans) and the ultimate attack on Chicago teachers orchestrated for the past year by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his media supporters, and his Board of Education, someone had to vote to make SB7 a law.

Rahm can't just order it, like the Pharaoh in "The Ten Commandments" — " let it be written, so let it be done..." His appointees, toadies, sycophants, and servile suckups have to play their role. He can, like Pharoah, vastly expand his City Hall propaganda department, all the while preaching "transparency" and "efficiency," but eventually someone can notice.

The fights right now are with the seven people who have voted in favor in lockstep for every edict and proposal to come from Rahm during the past 12 months. Those people are the members of the Chicago Board of Education. Their names are: Henry Bienen, Mahalia Hines, Penny Pritzker, Jesse Ruiz, Rodrigo Sierra, David Vitale, and Andrea Zopp. The seven were appointed by Rahm Emanuel after secret planning for the new Emanuel administration. In one swoop, the former Board of Education was swept away, and a new Board was in place. None of our colleagues in the servile Chicago corporate media asked, at the time, whether it was a good idea to destroy all institutional memory — if there was any. No one asked whether it was a good idea for the entire executive administration to be completely new (and clueless about Chicago), too. So by June 2011, when Rahm's Board met for the first time in a special meeting on June 15, virtually every face at the Board meeting was a new face. Jean - Claude Brizard and Tim Cawley (the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Administrative Officer respectively) had been in office less than four weeks on June 15, 2011. Cawley, after a stint at Motorola, had been at the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) as an executive. No teaching experience anywhere. Brizard, after some time in New York City as a teacher, principal and higher level administrator, had come to Chicago from Rochester.

And during the one year since Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education — for the first time in 17 years, replacing all of them at once — "Rahm's Board" (as it is being called) has taken the arrogance of power to new heights in Chicago. At every meeting, the seven Board members (or however many are there that month) vote to approve massive public expenditures and often vicious public policies — turnaround, school closings, false claims of "fiscal emergencies" — that would stun most taxpaying people in Chicago were most Chicago taxpayers provided with the actual facts of what Rahm's Board has been up to.

Chicago students and teachers marched on May 23, 2012 against the policies of the administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the mendacity of the Board of Education appointed by the mayor. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt. After a year of Rahm Emanuel's corporate version of reality (as school "reform") a close look at the record shows that in general the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education are the biggest group of hypocrites and the most mendacious bunch of bullies ever to rule over Chicago's schools. And in a city where the Board of Education once (during the 1930s) welcomed such massive corruption that a member of the Capone gang (Billy Skidmore, to be precise) had the monopoly on certain textbooks, to single out the current Board as the most egregious example of corruption, arrogance, and viciousness is to say a great deal. After all, this is Chicago.


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