Wright College, July 16, 2014... Chicago Public Schools budget hearings continue on the path of mendacity first paved by Rahm Emanuel in 2011... use of security staff to stifle debate and enhance Rahm's police state atmosphere expands on schedule

On July 16, 2014, the nation's third largest public school system held its annual budget hearings, and once again, the public was insulted. A new group of (mostly young) bureaucrats smiled, thanked every critical speaker for speaking (under a time limit of only two minutes), and presented another round of Power Point versions of reality. The official smiles and Power Point deviated so far from what people were experiencing in Chicago's real public schools that any experienced observer (including this reporter) would have had to wonder whether the people speaking from the floor and those who had carefully prepared the Emanuel administration's mendacious talking points were talking about the same city.

Roosevelt High School teacher Tim Meegan continues reading from his speech outlining the destructive impact of the cuts resulting from the Board's so-called "student-based budgeting" and increase in charter school funding while security snatches the microphone away from him because he had violated the Board's two-minute rule. While fixating their rehearsed smiles, CPS officials suppressed the words of anyone who dared to speak beyond their ridiculous two-minute time limit. As usual, the officials who were at the Wright College hearing where Meegan tried to speak were new to the events, and were, like their predecessors, reading from carefully rehearsed talking points. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.For the third time since Rahm Emanuel's inauguration in May 2011, the hearings were held simultaneously at three locations across the city. As a result, members of the public were stuck with only one opportunity to question the budget. And that opportunity would only last two minutes, no matter how complex or serious the issues facing the speaker were. Chicago's mayor was nowhere near any of the hearings on July 16, and as a father and city resident he had no reason to be. His own children attend one of the nation's most expensive and exclusive private schools -- the University of Chicago Lab School -- and his aversion to public budget hearings has become legend. After a brief foray into holding public hearings in 2011, Emanuel has retreated behind a cordon of public relations flacks and police, no longer daring to hear directly from the public on matters pertaining to the budget or other major city matters.

The deliberate suppression of democratic participation in the development of the massive CPS budget (which will exceed $6 billion by the time all the extras are added in within the next few months), has become a signature of the Emanuel administration. Also obvious is that the rotating and revolving group of smiling bureaucrats (all paid in six figures) who host the hearings will have had less than two years' experience anywhere in city government and within another year or two will have disappeared like those who sat and smiled before them. And all during those hearings, the smiles spoke from carefully crafted talking points, while security was ready to drag away any citizen who tried to exceed the two-minute limit on questions and statements.

With smiling faces, CPS officials continue repeating the official lies. CPS librarian Nora Wiltse testified during the Wright College hearing on July 16, 2014 that the new CPS budget is slashing 202 library positions. When Jenny Bennett replied reading a talking point that CPS couldn't find enough librarians to fill vacancies, members of the audience became angry shouting "That's not true!" and murmuring "Bullshit!" The destruction of school library programs in Chicago is just beginning to emerge as a national scandal, and CPS officials continue to repeat the lie told by Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd Bennett to the June 2014 Board of Education meeting. At that time, Byrd Bennett claimed that CPS would love to hire more librarians but that none were "available." The American Library Association immediately corrected Byrd Bennett, and later Reader reporter Ben Joravsky reported that even the prestigious Walter Payton High School had a librarian -- who had been reassigned to teach Spanish last school year! Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. The hearings for the FY 2015 budget were held on July 16, 2014 at three locations, all within the City Colleges system, which is firmly under the control of allies of Emanuel, and not in any of the city's public schools. The locations were Wright College on the Northwest Side, Malcolm X College on the Near West Side, and Kennedy King College on the South Side.

This report begins will what was presented and what the public said at the hearings at Wright College.

For the third year in a row, Chicago Public Schools officials have refused to provide the public and public libraries with copies of the Proposed Budget in print. For more than 100 years, through depressions and wars, each year the Proposed Budget was made available in print prior to the hearings at public libraries, at ward offices, and to members of the public who requested the "budget book" by going to the Board of Education's headquarters (in recent history, located at 228 N. LaSalle St., then at 1819 W. Pershing Road, and most recently at 125 S. Clark St.). Since the onset of the administration of Rahm Emanuel, the budget has been available only in cyberspace, and therefore only available to citizens who had a powerful enough computer to download the various documents and then print out what was necessary.

This has already led to mini-scandals. Board of Education officials simply change parts of the on-line budget during the weeks prior to the Board of Education meeting at which the budget is debated. Since few or no members of the public any longer has a real copy of the Proposed Budget, the Board can shift and weave in Cyberspace at its will. The CPS Treasurer Jenny Bennett (pay, $167,000 per year) presented the hearing at Wright College with a 15-page Power Point. The Power Point reiterated that talking points that CPS officials have been providing to the public instead of a detailed printed budget document for nearly a decade. The 2014 hearings were also all held on the same day at three different locations so that critics of the Board -- who had only two minutes to try and speak -- were limited to only one hearing. The simultaneous hearings and the refusal of the Board to print and distribute the Proposed Budget to ward offices and public libraries are one of the many innovations since May 2011, when Rahm Emanuel became mayor. Substance photo by George Schmidt.The Board has also refused, once again, to hold the budget hearings in June, prior to the end of its fiscal year (which ends on June 30). Each year the pretext for avoiding the June hearings changes, if anyone asked. But the Board has also made it more and more difficult even for corporate media reporters to ask questions. Prior to May 2011, when Rahm Emanuel became mayor, the Board held a budget press conference and reporters would gather to ask questions of the Board's "Chief Executive Officer" and other budget officials. Since May 2011, the Board members and the CEOs (first Jean-Claude Brizard and lately Barbara Byrd Bennett) have refused to hold press conference and submit to the give and take of a democratic First Amendment confrontation with reporters. Two weeks before the July 16 budget hearings, the Board quietly announced a by-telephone-only (and "by invitation only" -- Substance wasn't invited but got a tip from a friend and crashed the party) press thing, where reporters were permitted to ask questions without any materials provided in advance. The event, which featured Barbara Byrd Bennett and the Board's latest "Chief Financial Officer" Ginger Ostro, resulted in Barbara Byrd Bennett rushing out rather than continue to ask tough questions from reporters.

And so, on July 16, citizens of Chicago were channelled into three locations carefully chosen and carefully swarmed with security by the Mayor and got to face a group of nice people who barely identified themselves to sort of answer questions about $6 billion in public expenses that will have an impact on the lives of 400,000 children, their families, the 40,000 people who work for CPS, and the future of Illinois and the nation.

The guidelines provided in writing to everyone arriving stated:

"Time limited to two minutes per speaker

"Each speaker will have the option to ask one question or make comments."

Nobody explained why the budget weren't available in print. Nor did anyone explain why the most important public budget could only tolerate two minutes per person before the security swarmed to the front and snatched the microphone away from the speakers. This was particularly ironic because most of those sitting in front of the public were young people who had less than two years experience in Chicago's public schools (and no teaching experience in CPS), but were commanding six-figure salaries, apparently provided that they religiously stuck to their pre-scripted Power Point and talking points. And kept their smiles...

The hearing at Wright College began at 6:00 p.m. as scheduled. The first item was a brief Power Point showing the official CPS version of fiscal reality. As usual, the Board's "structural deficit" was blamed on two factors -- the refusal of Illinois to put more money into Chicago's schools and the Chicago pensions. Although each of the fifteen Power Point slides presented by CPS to the budget hearings contained its own self-serving mendacity, for Substance one of the most notorious came on the sixth slide. In that one, see above, the Board's budget officials claim that "administration" has been cut by $740 million since Rahm Emanuel took office (in 2011). One of the mendacities propounded by Chicago's mayor since 2011 has been a claim, often uttered with macho aggressiveness, that he has cut more "bureaucratic bloat" than anyone previously dared to do. While some CPS budget officials try to nuance the claim, when it's made by the mayor it is made as if he came in and discovered -- and eliminated -- three quarters of a billion dollars of bureaucracy left over from his predecessor. Like most of the claims by Rahm Emanuel, it is simply not true. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Because none of those narrating or officiating at the hearing had been around Chicago's schools more than a couple of years, they retained their smiles not even knowing that CPS officials have been saying these same things -- "structural deficit," "one-time infusions," "reducing reserves," "pension crisis," and all that stuff about the State of Illinois -- for a decade. The official version of the budget crisis of America's third largest school system hasn't changed in roughly a decade. But the system has been churning its administrators and financial officials. Treasuruer Jenny Bennett (who was lead person at the Wright College hearing, and who is paid $167,000 per year) told the audience she has been with CPS for "two years." Most of those on stage had been with CPS for fewer years than that. During the past ten years, CPS has been churning through financial officials. The latest "Chief Financial Officer" in Ginger Ostro. Until two months ago, the CFO was Peter Rodgers. Before Rodgers the CFO was Diana Ferguson. Ferguson's predecessor was Pedro Martinez. Etc.

As a result, the people who were seated before the community at Wright College (and, Substance reporters tell us, at the other two sites) had no experience in teaching in the city's real public schools and little experience beyond spreadsheet versions of reality at CPS. Their scripts obviously called upon them to smile at everyone, say something nice about everyone, and answer the question with a pre-packaged talking point.

The first person to comment was Dan Sager, who has been teaching at Michelle Clark High School on the West Side. Sager was the first among many to criticize CPS for the hypocrisy of what it called "Student-Based Budgeting." According to Sager, because of the cuts imposed on his school, the school no longer has a librarian. The number of counselors has been reduced from three to one. There is no longer a full music program. Student-Based Budgeting is hurting students, and the claim, made in the Power Point, that the Board has kept the cuts "away from the classroom" is simply not true. He said that TIF money should be reallocated into the schools and that the Board should be "accountable to the people" -- and not to one man.

In her first practiced reply, Jennifer Bennett said, "I hear you..." She then went on to explain how "revenues are not meeting expenditures..." and noted that more money had to come from the State of Illinois. Etc.

If Dan Sager was low-key at first, the next speaker, from the same part of town, narrated a shocking reality.

Deborah Woods, a teacher at Leland Elementary School on Chicago's West Side, told the hearing that budget cuts had left her school without adequate security, and that as a result gang members were threatening teachers on just about a daily basis. She said that after 16 years of teaching she had to take a sick leave on the advice of her doctor because of the stress of her job. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Deborah Woods told the Board that after 16 years of teaching she had to go on a sick leave on the advice of her doctor because of the stress of teaching last school year at Leland Elementary School. She said that security at her school was so bad that teachers were threatened regularly after lunch was over, and that students (who are also gang members) would call her a "bitch" and not face any real discipline. "I hear you," the Board's $167,000-a-year Treasurer Jenny Bennett said. The CPS officials at the table, none of whom had placed a name plate in front of them so that the speakers didn't know who they were talking to, talked about the "Safe Passage" program as if that had anything to do with gang security inside an elementary school on the West Side. Although some of the speakers seemed to think they were talking with decision makers, neither Barbara Byrd Bennett nor any of her to executives was present. None of the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education was there.

Nora Wiltse, a school librarian, said that the Board had eliminated 202 librarian postions, leaving at least half of the public schools in the nation's third largest city without school libraries. Several people in the audeince became vocal with anger when Jenny Bennet repeated the lie told by CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett at the June Board meeting that "there are not enough librarian candidates to fill the positions..." Bennett had taken to referring to the CEO as "Barbara", further angering some in the crowd who said "Who is she talking about?"

The CPS treasurer had barely completed her repetition of the CPS talking points about there not being enough "qualified librarians" than she faced a more formidable challenge to the scripts that had been provided to the suits in the front.

Tara Stamps stood at the microphone and introduced herself as a teacher at Jenner Elementary School, which is located in what is left of the vast Cabrini Green housing project. While it is possible that none of the smiling CPS faces at the front of the room knew how the racist destruction of public housing was part of the same triumverate of attacks on public services and public workers as "school reform," Tara Stamps had lived it her entire life, and was clearly angry. She immediately called the CPS presentation as a lie and noted that what CPS was describing as inevitable was actually a series of policy choices. Tara Stamps denounced the Board's lies about the budget, pointing out that from everything from TIF allocations to the increase of $76 million for charter schools the Board was doing the same thing it had done where she taught -- privatize public assets. Stamps teaches at Jenner Elementary School, the last of the five large elementary schools once located in Chicago's vast Cabrini-Green public housing projects. Of the other four, all had become private property in one way or another. One was given away to the Catholic Church for a Catholic school, another to the Chicago International Charter Schools, etc. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Stamps zeroed in on the fact that while CPS officials were smiling and trying to tell the public that the cutbacks in the city's remaining real public schools had been made necessary by the kind of school funding Illinois has, in the same new budget CPS was increasing the funding for charter schools by another $76 million! Stamps also noted how favors to the private sector through the way in which TIF dollars are allocated were hurting the public schools. She also mentioned during her brief remarks (everyone had two minutes, and the smiling CPS team nodded to the beefy security guards to grab the mics away when TIME was called...) that she was offended when she realized that when Jenny Bennett talked about "Barbara" she was referring to the CEO of the school system, Barbara Byrd Bennett.

Undaunted, Bennet tried to reply to the charges made by Stamps. She tried to explain that most of the money in the TIFs had already been allocated "to other projects" than the schools. As Stamps stood in her seat, having left the microphone, the exchange continued briefly while a large security guard moved there and parked permanently alongside the teacher from Cabrini-Green.

The next speaker was Beverly Graham of the League of Women Voters. Speaking on behalf of the League, Graham was constrained by the two-minute straight jacket, but did her best to summarize the group's finding. She noted that charter school finances were expanding, even after the city had closed 50 real public schools claiming austerity had forced the move on Chicago. In a long-winded but ultimately evasive answer to the charter question, one of the other people at the front, who did not identify himself, began a lengthy explanation about how Chicago reviewed all charter school applications every school year, and how if the Board of Education denied a charter school's application the Illinois Charter Schools Commission could overrule the Board and order the charter anyway. There was no explanation of why the Board had to expand charter schools after closing so many real public schools, making it sound as if the Board was powerless in the face of a growing public demand for a five-year moratorium on the expansion of CPS charter schools (and so-called "campuses") while a complete audit and review of charter schools was conducted, preferably both by CPS officials and by an independent and skeptical outside commission. The Concept Charter Schools in Chicago, which are now under investigation by the FBI, are being expanded despite the fact that the corruption of those schools has long been a matter of public record. The next speaker was also critical of the Board for the cuts it had been making at the local school level. Victoria Benson introduced herself as the chair of the Local School Council at Portage Park Elementary School. She criticized the Board of Education for adding charter school seats totaling 21,481 in the coming school year while leaving the city's real public schools to suffer under austerity that includes a lack of air conditioning. She also noted that the Board had recently announced that it was going to spend at least $5 million for new office furniture when it moves in November to its new offices (at the Sears facility at the corner of Dearborn and Madison) three blocks away from the current offices (125 S. Clark St).

Many of those in the audience were skeptical when the CPS treasurer claimed that the reason the Board was buying new furniture rather than moving the old stuff which fills more than a dozen floors at Clark St. was because some of the old furniture will not fit into the new space. Because of the two-minute rule and the structure of the hearings, no one in the audience was allowed to ask whether CPS officials had measured the new space before deciding that the old furniture would not "fit." Nor was anyone able to challenge the Board officials' talking point as ridiculous, since when CPS moved from 1819 W. Pershing Road to 125 S. Clark St. in 1997 - 1998, all of the "old" furniture was moved into the new space along with the bureaucrats and technical staff people who had been at the desks. What was lost, because Vallas made sure it was lost, were acres of documents that underlined important histories of school policies, ranging from the school attendance boundaries (that showed the history of racial gerrymandering across the South Side and West Side) to the engineering materials that showed the asbestos danger in many schools. By ordering CPS officials to take now more than four moving boxes from the old space to the "new" space at Clark St., Vallas was ensuring that CPS would be somewhat secure as it moved forward into massive privatization in the knowledge that many aspects of the history of the public schools in America's third-largest and most racially segregated city would be erased as much as possible from the documentary history.

After the official talking point on the new furniture, the hearing heard from Tim Meegan, who teaches at Roosevelt High School.

Meegan provided Substance with a complete copy of his remarks, which were interrupted when the CPS timekeeper called "Time" and the officials refused to allow him to finish the remarks (which would take barely three minutes). MEEGAN'S COMPLETE REMARKS:

My name is Tim Meegan, I am the father of two neighborhood school students, a teacher at Roosevelt High School, and an independent candidate for 33rd ward alderman.

In 2 years you cut Roosevelt’s budget by over $1.8 million and we lost 19 positions, despite no significant decrease in enrollment?

You’re cutting budgets at neighborhood schools by about $77 million while increasing budgets to charters by the same amount?

You’re cutting at my historic 87-year-old school, whose social studies department alone has three national board certified teachers and two award winning teachers in economics and US history? A school that produced authors Shel Silverstein and Nelson Algren, and continues to produce university graduates today?

Meanwhile Concept charters gets an increase? The network under investigation by the Department of Ed and the FBI is getting an increase, while my school is losing money? The same charter operated by the Turkish Gulan movement who bribes Mike Madigan and others with free trips to Turkey?

Kimberly Shannon (right) showed a yellow ("10 seconds remaining") and a red warning sign to the speakers, most of whom objected to getting only two minutes to present the facts while CPS officials droned on reciting their talking points for as long as they wanted. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.You closed 50 schools erroneously claiming there were “empty seats” in black and brown neighborhoods. Since then you’ve added 21,000 seats in 42 new charter schools, in the same neighborhoods you claimed underutilization in the first place!

And now you’re building a new magnet school for $60 million, named for the first black President, in a white neighborhood where it is not needed? Even though white enrollment at magnets is skyrocketing while black enrollment is plummeting?

Haven’t you guys heard of Brown vs Board of Ed?

And before you go blaming teacher pensions for the budget cuts, keep in mind that politicians failed to make their payments for almost a decade, but teachers never missed a payment. The only crisis here is a crisis in ethical leadership.

A year ago the Sun Times declared privatization of public education a "conspiracy theory." It is widely accepted as true today. We are done begging and pleading with the appointed school board. CPS security (right) snatches the microphone from Tim Meegan, as they did from the majority of speakers, who were limited to two minutes while fatuous CPS remarks went on and on. Not one of the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education was at the Wright College hearing. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.So here’s what we’re going to do. Rahm Emanuel will lose this election. Aldermen too afraid to stand up to Rahm will lose their seats. It is clear that the only way to be heard is to replace our tone deaf politicians.

Chicagoans will send a message to the ENTIRE NATION…that corporate school reform is dead! Charter proliferation is dead! That people power can defeat money power, and that the politics of justice, the politics of love, can triumph over the politics of hatred, greed, and fear! The tide has turned Chicago, it’s time to take our city back! Are you with me?

The mic was snatched from Meegan, as it was from the majority of other speakers, on orders from those orchestrating the hearing.

Tim Meegan is running for alderman of the 33rd Ward against Deb Mell. His website is

If anyone doubted that the CPS officials who smiled through their two hours of talking points didn't know what they were talking about, the comments that followed Tim Meegan's speech should have finalized the verdict. The budget is paying Jenny Bennett $167, 000 this year, according to the latest CPS "Position File." Whatever training and education Bennett brought to her position, her next remarks were obtuse, as well as inaccurate. in response to Meegan's remarks about the school closings, she told the audience (many of whom groaned) that "perorfmance is up" at the "Welcoming Schools." As the CTU has demonstrated, CPS was so negligent in its reorganization following the closings that at least 1,000 children have been "lost" since they were moved. CPS failed to put into place a tracking system to account for all of the kids who were being ripped out of their former schools and forced into other schools, often at a considerable distance away.

Even Barbara Byrd Bennett knows enough about educational research to know that no claim of "improved performance" can be credibly made during the first year of any program. (See my review of the book "Proofiness" elsewhere on this month's Home Page at

The CPS officials at the hearing also repeated the controversial CPS defense of the closings by citing the "Safe Passage" program, as if it accounted for everything. They even cited Safe Passage when people complained about poor security in the schools, apparently not realizing that Safe Passage only covers a small number of schools, that the "Save Passage" workers are not security aides, and that even the claims that "Safe Passage" is a "success" because nobody was murdered during the first year following the closings is dubious. Violence in many of the "Welcoming Schools" increased because of gang conflicts, so Chicago and CPS officials simply covered it up.

The next speaker didn't give his last name.

Retired teacher Marie Kielty tried to explain to the members of the panel that many of the Board's expensive fetishes are "developmentally inappropriate", but it was unlikely that any of the members of Board's panel had any idea what she was talking about. For the past several years, as part of its administratively inappropriate privatization programs, the Board has been snubbing experienced educators and hiring only pretentious MBAs and other brainwashed avatars of the current ruling class jargon for power positions. Emotionally crippled, but with well practiced smiles, the members of the six-figure executive ranks of America's third largest school system cannot understand the objections of teachers, parents, children and other real people trying to save Chicago's real public schools. Unable to comprehend any discussion that takes place outside the parameters of an Excel spreadsheet, they are generally illiterate in the language of real children's education. Trying to talk with them about the problems raised by the budget they were defending is like trying to speak in Latin to a semi-literate chimpanzee about theological issues. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. He was followed by Marie Kielty, who talked about how much money CPS was wasting in inappropriate testing programs, especially for pre-kindergarten children. "The Common Core is developmentally inappropriate..." she told the people sitting stolidly at the front table, but it was clear by looking at them that they had no idea what she was talking about. Young and arrogant technocrats, their religious certainty that everything could be reduced to a "bottom line" on a spreadsheet or to another insipid Power Point (without footnotes or any way for the citizens to verify the mendacious and duplicitous claims of the smug technocrats).

Marie Kielty's statement:

Text of Presentation at Chicago Board of Education budget hearings, Marie Kielty, Retired teacher, July 16, 2014

My name is Marie Kielty. I am a resident of Chicago, a retired CPS teacher. As a pensioner of the Chicago Teacher’s Pension Fund, I have paid into my retirement. Other entities have not paid their obligations to teachers’ pensions.

In the section on the Office of Accountability there is proposed to “Shift the Chicago: Ready to Learn! Initiative pre-k admissions process from the Office of Early Childhood to Accountability to streamline the process.” As a former PFA teacher, I required that the parent bring the child with them to register. The parent and the child had the opportunity to meet me and the teacher assistant. While I did the paper work, the teacher assistant showed the child the different activities in the room. This was a transition for both the child and the parent. The transition for the child, helping the child become acquainted with us and the classroom, is non-existent in this process with Accountability. This is not developmentally appropriate practice, which term the budget uses in several different places. “The family engagement” mentioned is missing. The Department of Student Assessment provides “developmentally appropriate assessments”. In 2015 third graders will spend eight hours being tested on the Common Core Standards. This is not developmentally appropriate. I am pleased that the “district-required assessments from grades 3 through 11 will be reduced.” The budget uses the term “developmentally appropriate” several times in ways that show there is no understanding of what is developmentally appropriate as defined by NAEYC, the National Association for the Education of Young Children. In the section under New Early Childhood Initiatives there is the statement: “Develop a comprehensive system for PK-2 grade Common Core State Standards framework for teaching.” The Office of Early Childhood does not seem to understand that the CCSS begin in kindergarten, not preschool. The recently revised Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards align with the Common Core in some instances. In the Performance Policy for schools, including charter schools “to measure overall school quality”, is there an analysis of the number of graduating seniors from charter schools in relation to the number of freshmen who entered four years earlier?

In the principal preparation programs conducted by the SUPES Academy will these preparation programs address principal’s knowledge of Early Childhood? Are principals aware of the document Early Childhood Education and the Elementary School Principal from the National Association of Elementary School Principals? It was published twenty five years ago. I have spoken of this at the 2006 CPS budget hearing, at the 2007 budget hearing, and at the 2013 budget hearing. I have yet to hear a response to my question.

After Kielty came Marty Ritter, who thanked the people sitting up front for trying to answer questions despite their ignorance of school and classroom realities. Ritter then itemized the increases in the administrative departments that were being made under this new budget, while the Power Pointers in the front were trying to claim that the opposite was true. The "Talent Office" has added 40 people, he told the meeting. [The "Talent Office" is the latest re-branding of the Personnel Department, which became Human Resources, which became the infamous "Human Capital," which finally three years ago was rebranded as "Talent". The same former Sears bureaucrat Alicia Winckler has been in charge of it since a couple of years before the Reign of Rahm began).

Ritter also reminded the public that the neologistically and uniquely named "Office of Incubation and Innovation" had expanded, even though no other school system in the nation has one of these, and all it has been doing is destroying real schools and replacing them with corrupt patronage contracts for the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL).

Marty Ritter, who among other services to the community serves on the Whitney Young High School Local School Council (LSC), exposed a couple of the latest lies from the administration of Barbara Byrd Bennett. Ritter itemized the increases in various executive departments at the CPS central office, even as the panelists continued to try to claim that the latest budget represented yet another major reduction in "administration." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The Board's fetish for "innovation," "incubation," and "disruptive change" has been part and parcel of its enslavement to the jargon and self-brainwashing of the Arne Duncan versions of reality, which were, after all, birthed in Chicago. Duncan and his "team" at the U.S. Department of Education have simply exported and in some cases rebranded every atrocity he pioneered in Chicago to the rest of the nation since Barack Obama made him U.S. Secretary in January 2009.

Loretta Wesley, a counselor at Disney Magnet School, told the hearing that the last school year had been the worst in her 32 years in teaching. She said that "Student Based Budgeting" has made the principals the scapegoats for a system that cuts back money to all the schools and then claims that the local schools has a "choice" of what to cut.

Right on schedule, Jenny Bennett defended what many are beginning to call the Board's "Titanic" version of reality, repeating, for the 12th or 13th time, that so-called "Student-Based Budgeting" was more "fair" because every school got the same amount for each student. Despite all the challenges from the audience and the speakers, she stubbornly ignored the fact that the Board was again adding more than $70 million to the city's charter schools, while continuing to sabotage the city's remaining real public schools. [The Titanic had only half the lifeboats needed if the ship had to be abandoned, and nobody but those who were in charge of corporate finances knew that the engineers had been forced to approve the use of weak rivets along the hull, one of the main explanations for why the hull popped when the iceberg scraped along it. Both decisions that killed so many people were made based on corporate finances, but it was the captain who got the blame because the financial people were far away and safe on land].

Marisol Vazquez was next. She said she had been laid off from her teacher job and then walked away from the microphone before anyone could say that her two minutes were up.

Liz Brown repeated the charge that CPS was adding more than $70 million to the charter schools and continuing to strip the city's real public schools.

At this point, the CPS treasurer, Jenny Bennett, got her talking points messed up. She tried to justify the claim that CPS would be saving "$14 million" because of the privatization of cleaning services that was rammed through the Board literally without public discussion in February and implemented in all the schools in April and May. "We had 1,000 different vendors..." for custodial services she said, a statement that was so madly untrue that it almost impossible to believe. But with her set smile, Bennett continued with the CPS talking points, as if privatization solved everything and there was no real accountability for the chaos that has swept through many schools as union custodians were replaced by underpaid minimum wage workers working for two private companies that received the contracts.

The next speaker was Rodney Estvan, of Access Living Chicago, who has been reading and analyzing the budgets for more than a decade -- longer than any of the CPS officials smiling at the front table had been with CPS.


July 17, 2014 at 11:10 AM

By: Kati Gilson, NBCT

budget hearings

Same old, same old, CPS BS song and dance. Jut like the school closing hearings. They don't care what the public thinks, They don't want the public to think. To have a a discussion on the budget without even providing copies is ludicrous. Rahm is trying to run a Monarchy in a city of what should be Democracy. Next thing you know he'll put a crown on his head. He needs to go. We need a mayor that will listen to the people and provide the people with copies of documents to be discussed. I'm hoping for Karen!

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