LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND RAHMLIES... Apparently, Arne Duncan and Rahm Emanuel never talked about the Chicago Public Schools budget while they were in the White House together with Barack Obama...

It's no wonder that Barbara Byrd Bennett and the current propagandists at the headquarters of America's third largest school system don't hold press conferences. Even though most education writers and reporters in Chicago are muzzled by their owners and editors, someone would have noticed during the first days of July 2014 that either Byrd Bennett is a fool -- or that she's lying.

As part of her presentation to selected reporters (not including this one, although I got in to the secret session and asked questions until Byrd Bennett suddenly departed) Byrd Bennett claimed that since Rahm Emanuel became mayor in 2011 the school system had cut more than $700 million in administrative bloat.

On June 6, 2006, Chicago Public Schools "Chief Administrative Officer" David Vitale (above, behind the chart) stood during a press conference announcing the Board of Education's proposed 2006 - 2007 (FY 2007) budget. At the time, as the chart above shows, CPS claimed it had a budget for "administration" of $198 million, and Vitale was the chief for administration. Seven years later, the Chicago Board of Education, in announcing its proposed budget for the 2014 - 2015 school year claimed that it had cut more than $700 million from "administration" central office etc. since Rahm Emanuel took over and appointed Vitale as President of the Board of Education in May 2001. Under the administration of Vitale and Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd Bennett, the CPS administration no longer holds press conferences like the one above, so it becomes impossible for reporters to contemplate the lies Vitale and his underlings carefully craft before they host selective media events for carefully screened reporters. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.But a couple of years before Rahm became mayor, a CPS budget press conference showed that, according to Arne Duncan, CPS had less than $200 million in "Administration." That mere $200 million (as shown in the accompanying photograph from June 2006) showed the claim that CPS, under Arne Duncan and David Vitale, had cut all "Administration" down to less than $200 million.

That June 2006 press conference was held before Chicago Public Schools officials stopped talking directly to reporters and resorted instead to trying simply to leak its talking points to its friends, ignore most reporters, and spin their narrative while ducking precise questions.


Either someone added nearly a billion dollars to the CPS "administration" after Arne Duncan joined Rahm Emanuel in the White House (Duncan as U.S. Secretary of Education; Rahm as Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama) so that Rahm's "team" could cut it by more than $700 million, or....

They don't know what they are talking about.

June 2006 was one of the last times that the Chicago Board of Education held its annual budget hearings during the fiscal year of the previous budget. The CPS fiscal year lasts from July 1 through June 30. For decades, Chicago Public Schools presented the public with its proposed budget in June, the hearings were held in June before the end of the fiscal year, and the Board voted on the "Final" budget at its June meeting.

During the years he was CEO of CPS, Arne Duncan routinely announced that the administrative budget had been cut "to the bone" (usually their metaphor of choice) so that by June 6, 2006, Duncan stood in the little theater that CPS had created on the sixth floor of its headquarters at 125 S. Clark St. with various officials, including (then) Chief Financial Officer Pedro Martinez and (then) Chief Administrative Officer David Vitale. Duncan, Martinez and Vitale present the public and the press with charters and graphs showing how the budget was divided up. On one (graphic above) a pie charter chowed that "administration" had been reduced by Duncan to less than $200 million.

On June 6, 2006, as he explained the proposed budget for FY 2007 to the press at a press conference, Arne Duncan was "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools. Standing with Duncan during the media event were several of his top executives, including (left) David Vitale, who at that time was "Chief Administrative Officer," and Pedro Martinez, who at the time was "Chief Financial Officer." During his years as CEO, Duncan announced each year that cuts were necessary, but were being made "away from the classroom" in "bureaucracy." By June 2006, Duncan was claiming that the part of the system's more than $6 billion budget for "administration" was less than $200 million. Both Vitale and Martinez agreed with the figures Duncan presented to the public. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. After Duncan left Chicago to become U.S. Secretary of Education in January 2009, his successor, former police officer Ron Huberman, continued with the annual announcement that the administration at CPS was reducing bureaucratic bloat. Huberman resigned after former Mayor Richard M. Daley announced that he would not be running for another term as mayor. When Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor in 2011, Terry Mazany of the Chicago Community Trust had been acting as "Interim CEO."

Rahm appointed David Vitale to be President of the Board of Education. At the same time, Rahm appointed an all new Board of Education (seven members, including Vitale) and a new "CEO" -- Jean-Claude Brizard, who had been working as superintendent of Rochester New York's public schools.Less than a year earlier, Brizard had received a "no confidence" vote from the Rochester teachers union and was facing increasing criticism from parents, teachers, students and community activists. Rahm did not explain why Brizard was his pick.

Since Rahm Emanuel took over the city's public schools, the system has churned administrators at an unprecedented rate.

On July 2, 2014, top administrators of the Chicago Public Schools hosted a semi-secret by-phone-only press briefing on the proposed budget for the 2014-2015 school year. The briefing was primarily conducted by "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett, and "Chief Financial Officer" Ginger Ostro, both of whom have been in office less than two years. As part of the briefing, Byrd Bennet and Ostro had emailed a Power Point on the budget to the selected reporters who were there (Substance was not invited by crashed the exclusive party and is preparing a legal challenge to the ongoing governmental violations of the First Amendment in Chicago's public schools). According to the seventh page of the Power Point, since the beginning of the New Age brought to CPS by Rahm Emanuel in May 2011, administration had been reduced by more than $700 million. Graphic from the CPS Power Point distributed to reporters during the secret budget briefing by phone on July 2, 2014. The "Chief Executive Officer" chosen by Rahm, Rochester New York's Jean-Claude Brizard, lasted until the end of the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012. In October 2012, the Board of Education hired former Detroit school system chief Barbara Byrd Bennett for replace Brizard. Although she talks routinely as a "mother" and "teacher" and "grandmother," Byrd Bennet's appointment was powered by the Broad Foundation. Since she was hired, she has pointedly hired most of her executive "team" from outside of Illinois, with a special emphasis on Ohio (where she served as chief of the Cleveland schools for a time) and Michigan (where she helped terminate the Detroit public schools before moving to Chicago).


September 5, 2014 at 1:48 AM

By: Alicia Negrete

At awe

Sounds like Ohio has always been in control of the city!! Corrupted ties come from Ohio that's where the root of the problem lies!!

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

4 + 4 =