Board meeting October 23, 2013 in rehearsals now... Is Chicago in for another mendacious Power Point -- and another eyes-closed vote from its school board members?...Will Barbara Byrd Bennett try to use another crude and mendacious Power Point to validate the new 'Promotion Policy' October 23?

Another vintage Power Point looms. It's a CPS thing. There were only six members of the seven-member Chicago Board of Education at the Board's September 25, 2013 meeting (Board member Carlos Azcoitia was absent), and the meeting was also missing the latest "Chief Executive Officer", Barbara Byrd Bennett. Byrd Bennett, who is the fifth CEO of CPS since Arne Duncan left Chicago to become U.S. Secretary of Education in 2009, was elsewhere earning her quarter million dollar annual salary. But that didn't stop the voting members of the Board from once again rubber stamping something brought to them in Power Point by one of the regularly rotated members of the school system's administrative staff.

The Power Point has become the chief camouflage for administrative mendacity and evasion during the current era of school governance. But what Power Point will be the next iteration of the tradition? Substance received what may be the presentation expected from Barbara Byrd Bennett to the October 23, 2013 Board of Education meeting in the form it was foisted on principals nearly a week earlier. The mystery will be cleared up by noon on October 23, 2013. Readers who wish a copy of the Power Point can request it from Substance by emailing and indicating "Promotion Power Point" in the Subject line.Given the recent history, it's more and more interesting that Chicago's corporate media misses the chronic instability -- and often silly posing -- by those rotating in and out of the top jobs in the nation's third largest school system. Consider: By January 2009, Arne Duncan, who had been CEO of CPS (despite his lack of qualifications) from July 2001 and was on his way to Washington, D.C. to run America's schools.

-- RON HUBERMAN. So... Chicago had a new schools CEO, a former cop named Ron Huberman, who was touted by then-mayor Richard M. Daley as a "performance expert".

-- Huberman lasted almost (not quite) two years. When Chicago learned in October 2010 that Rahm Emanuel was rushing back home to lead the city after helping Barack Obama as White House Chief of Staff in Washington, D.C. in late 2010, Huberman abruptly departed. He left behind the remnants of his "Performance" team with their multi-colored wall charts and the "metrics" that had bedeviled principals (and some teachers, the ones lacking a sense of humor and skepticism) for a couple of years. Huberman had lasted nearly two years. His performance expert, Sarah Kremsner (who had made her name improving bus and transit schedules) was kept around for a year after that.

-- TERRY MAZANY. Then there was Terry Mazany. After Huberman's departure, the schools were headed by an "Interim CEO" (Terry Mazany, of the Chicago Community Trust). Mazany lasted just about a full half year. He kept Huberman's "performance" experts and "performance" matrices.

-- JEAN CLAUDE BRIZARD. The best person to run America's third largest schools system soon became Jean Claude Brizard. Terry Mazany was followed in May 2011 by Rahm Emanuel's first choice as CEO, Jean-Claude Brizard.

Jean Claude Brizard had just received a vote of no confidence from the vast majority of parents and a vaster majority of teachers in Rochester, New York, where he had been schools superintendent. All reports said that Brizard would have soon been looking for a job following the mess he had created in Rochester. But the Broad Foundation vetted him and recommend his talents to Chicago, and that was enough for Rahm Emanuel. Brizard began as CEO of CPS at the June 2011 Board of Education meeting and lasted through the humiliation of a year and five months as Rahm Emanuel's Tonto, departing with a very very lucrative golden parachute, ultimately to be landed by his sponsors at the College Board, where he can continue using the phrases "college and career ready" and "Common Core" that he practiced in Chicago. Brizard's time in Chicago had been seventeen months (more or less).

-- BARBARA BYRD BENNETT. So, by October 2012, after the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012, Rahm Emanuel put in his second (Broad Foundation-approved) CEO for CPS -- Barbara Byrd Bennett. Byrd Bennett had spent a year or so overseeing the final destruction of Detroit's public schools.

And so, in the course of time, the members of the city's school board got the debacle of the presentation of the mandatory ten-year facilities plan to the September meeting. The facilities plan, which was supposed to have been delivered after public discussion on January 1, 2013, had been delayed so that the Emanuel administration could hold a massive number of publicity stunts and public events to justify the closing of 50 schools (the number that leaked out from Rahm's inner circle by October 2012) as partial payback for the teachers who had struck against his Hollywood scripts and privatization plans.

But by the first anniversary of the end of the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012, even the most docile members of the school board were making public statements indicating that CPS officials were going to have to do a better job of presenting the latest Emanuel administration double-talk if they were going to burnish their reputations as public officials by continuing to vote for ... whatever. The immediate credibility problems facing the Board members at the September Board meeting were two fold.

First, after a year of telling the public that they had been facing a "billion dollar deficit" and had "zero reserves," the Board staff had discovered, Hogwarts style, a magical "reserve" of more than $600 million to balance the final budget they voted to approve at the deadline of August 2013.

Second, the Board, along with its "deficit" claims, had been telling the world there was no money for facilities improvements (except the expensive air conditioners and other stuff put into the schools that weren't closed but were supposed to be receiving the kids from the schools that were).

Trouble was, the week before their September 2013 meeting, their Master's Voice had been heard across Chicago, as Rahm Emanuel traversed the city from the northwestern suburban borders to the Illinois State Line a few miles from the Indiana casinos announcing he was going to (a) build new schools, or (b) add additions to existing schools. With money that a week earlier CPS officials -- and Board members -- had been publicly proclaiming that there wasn't any money for such stuff.

But the September 2013 Board meeting came and went, with the usual unanimous vote in favor of the latest iteration of City Hall policy as CPS education planning.

The question before the October 2013 meeting of the Board was not whether the Board members willl approve the latest "Student Promotion Policy" but only whether any of them will bother to read it following assurances by CPS administrators that it really is the best thing for the children of Chicago's public schools. A week before the Board meeting, principals, local school administrators, and some "ILT" (instructional leadership team) members had received a version of the Power Point that is likely to be modified for the CEO's October 23 presentation. But only time will tell.

By October 22, 2013, the day before the Board meeting, Chicago citizens already had a copy of the outline of the promotion policy, thanks to a chart and press release provided to the city at the last minute on the afternoon of Friday, October 18, 2013. (See article following this one).

The policy was also included in the massive agenda for the Board meeting, which went up on line on September 21, 2013, in keeping with the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

Just as an artillery barrage always came before a major troop movements of the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II, so a Power Point always announces the latest version of reality being touted as policy in Chicago's public schools.

it may be assumed that there would be some defensive actions in the administrative "cabinet" of Barbara Byrd Bennett, the most recent "Chief Executive Officer" (CEO) of America's third largest school system. At the least, Byrd Bennett herself will probably have to give some Power Point herself.

During the previous months, she had assigned the Power Pointing to three white guys. John Barker (a guy hired less than a year ago out of Memphis), the current "Chief Accountability Officer" had rendered the accountability Power Point. Barker's previous posting had been the state that brought the fraudulent "Value Added" version of accountability to the world.

Todd Babbitz (who had been working in the big consulting world two years ago, before being hired by CPS as "Chief Transformation Officer"), delivered the Power Point on the facilities plan.

And Tim Cawley (who had been working for the "turnaround" outfit AUSL before being hired by CPS when Brizard was hired by Emanuel) had delivered the final version of the budget. While Cawley was Power Pointing, no one on the Board of Education asked why the "Chief Administrative Officer" was presenting while the "Chief Financial Officer" was sitting a few feet away, silently.

When the so-called "facilities plan" was presented to the Board by former consultant Todd Babbitz, even the Board members were forced to express their skepticism about the notion that the plan was a plan. Board member Henry Bienen, who usually goes out of his way to support even the most inane pronouncement from the every-changing "cabinet" and administrative team, pointed out, in public and on the record, that the plan wasn't really a plan.

Board member (and vice president) Jesse Ruiz tried in his oleagenous lawyerly style to provide more support for Babbitz's threadbare Power Point, even going so far as to suggest, ever so politely, that maybe the plan should have an index which would enable parents and other citizens to navigate around something that may cost the public a couple of billion dollars -- assuming that it is followed. Ruiz later had to admit on WTTW Television that he hadn't actually read the plan, but had contented himself, like most of the Board members, with an uncritical yes vote for the Power Point Cliffs' Notes version. Ruiz's public embarrassment on television took place because the other person on the show with him, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, had actually read the plan, and called it inadequate (and worse) while politely smiling at the millionaire lawyer who regularly reminds Board meetings that his parents had raised him in Humboldt Park poverty but that boostraps and all that had succeeded in bringing him into a partnership on LaSalle Street and into the Board of Education that has to do the bidding of the man who appointed all of them, Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Board members Andrea Zopp and Mahalia Hines weighed in with their thoughts before joining the unanimous vote to approve the plan that isn't really a plan, the major production of nearly and extra year's work that was brought before the public without an index.


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