MEDIA WATCH: Cawley and Vitale should be called the 'Turnaround Twins'... Their roots are both in AUSL, Chicago's masters of education 'turnaround'... Do the Tribune's editors want their 'turnaround' sweet hearts to take over the CPS 'turnaround' now on the ruling class's agenda...

Two down, one to go? Only three weeks after the May 2015 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, four members of the Board are being purged by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose mismanagement of the nation's third largest school system is still being covered up by most of the corporate media. But of the three Board members above who were at the May 2015 meeting, only David Vitale will be left when the Board convenes in July 2015. The two on the right, Deborah Quazzo and Carlos Azcoitia, were dumped by Emanuel as the scandal swirling around their hand-picked CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett escalated into June, featuring a continued federal investigation into the system's corrupt leadership and Byrd Bennett's resignation. Vitale (above left) remains President of the Chicago Board of Education despite the fact that during the four years he has been in charge the Board has sabotaged the city's real public schools and pursued, under the leadership of Vitale and Emanuel, a scorched earth policy of privatization, school closings, union busting and teacher bashing. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. If the editors of Chicago's leading corporate newspaper are to be believed, then Chicago Public Schools already has the talent -- in house -- to do the job that needs to be done: a corporate style "turnaround." And the guys for the big job, both already trained in education "turnaround" are Tim Cawley and David Vitale. Yes. It's that strange as the cause of corporate "education reform" degenerates into a series of national punch lines.

According to a Chicago Tribune editorial on June 8, 2014, what the nation's third largest school system needs in its next "Chief Executive Officer" is some kind of "turnaround" specialist, from corporate America one must suppose. And according to the Tribune, the mayor is also looking for such a person to become the seventh CEO at CPS since 2007. But aren't the Tribune and Mayor Rahm Emanuel really saying that the next "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago Public Schools should be the current "Chief Administrative Officer" -- Tim Cawley? While the former "Chief Administrative Officer" -- David Vitale -- remains as Board President. On February 26, 2014, Chicago Public Schools "Chief Administrative Officer" Tim Cawley (above during his Power Point presentation) praised a plan to re-privatize CPS custodial services by awarding a hug contract to Aramark. Cawley promised the Board and the public that the schools would be cleaner, principals would face less work, and the system would save lots of money. Within a few months, the Aramark contract was proved to be a mess, as school filth increased while Cawley continued to claim that the schools were cleaner and the cost was less. Then the Chicago Sun-Times discovered that Cawley had goofed on the contract to the tune of an extra $10 million cost to CPS because Cawley hadn't listed all the schools Aramark had to clean. But as of June 2015, Cawley remains at his $215,000 a year job and because of his roots in "turnaround" (he worked for AUSL before going to CPS after Rahm Emanuel's May 2011 inauguration) maybe the Tribune wants Cawley as the next CEO of CPS. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.After all, Cawley and Vitale both came to Chicago Public Schools from the city's major "turnaround" outfit, the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL). And at their May 2015 meeting, the members of the Board of Education who bothered to show up voted to extend five AUSL "turnaround" contracts through 2018. This must mean that AUSL is the top "turnaround" outfit for schools anywhere (and apparently the U.S. Department of Education agrees; Arne Duncan has repeatedly praised AUSL). Both David Vitale and Tim Cawley came to CPS most recently from AUSL. At the time Rahm Emanuel appointed Vitale to be President of the Board of Education in May 2011, Vitale was on the Board of AUSL. And at the time Vitale and the Board members voted to make Cawley their "Chief Administrative Officer" (a post that had once been held by Vitale), Cawley was a top executive at AUSL. A close look indicates, however, that Cawley's AUSL experience missed a few things, most notably knowledge of Chicago's public schools. Despite Cawley's unctious Power Point touting the virtues of the Aramark cleaning contract (February 2014 Board meeting), Cawley managed to miss about 20 schools, thereby costing the school system an additional $10 million on the contracts that Cawley claimed were going to (a) save the schools lots of money, (b) save the principals lots of time and aggravation, and (c) make the schools cleaner. So....

If the Tribune is serious about its latest prescription for CPS, then Cawley is their man -- the CPS "turnaround" guy is already the CPS "administrative" guy at $215,000 per year.

The Tribune apparently missed the fact that the two "turnaround" guys already at CPS have created one of the bigger messes in the long and lurid history of America's third largest school system. But, heck, when you're talking "turnaround" in Chicago, anything goes. Chicago is, after all, the city that gave the world a guy nicknamed "Chainsaw Al Dunlap" -- the "turnaround specialist" who ruined Chicago's Sunbeam corporation (and a few others) until his frauds were exposed (too late to help those whose jobs and lives had been ruined). Two striking memories of these "turnaround" fantasies still hold:

The Tribune went along with the "Chainsaw Al Dunlap" propaganda right up to the destruction of Sunbeam. The Tribune even went along with making sure their "news" photos of Dunlap showed his West Point ring, even though, as the Tribune failed to mention, Dunlap was a West Point "soldier" who managed to miss all the wars of the past 80 or 90 years, and...

Long before he was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the Chicago Board of Education, corporate lawyer Jesse Ruiz (above left) was routinely rubber stamping every privatization and charterization scheme to come out of Chicago's corporate "school reform" during his time on the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Above, Ruiz and Board President David Vitale share a lighter moment before the Board of Education's May 2015 meeting, which saw Ruiz recommend that escalation of Chicago's charter schools onslaught from his new perch as "Interim Chief Executive Officer" of the beleaguered school system. Vitale led the five members of the Board present for the meeting in voting to approve the escalation of charters in Chicago, following up by approving the continuation of the so-called "turnaround" by AUSL (for which Vitale once worked). Substance photo by David Vance.For a time the Tribune and the rest of the corporate press went along with trying to baptize former CPS CEO Paul Vallas as "Chainsaw Paul..." Which was in print just as Business Week exposed the fact that Dunlap and his "turnaround" claims were all bullshit.

There was no public discussion at the May 2015 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education about the decision to renew, for a three-year period, the so-called "turnaround" contracts for AUSL. Above, the Board Report on the contract for Johnson Elementary School. But here we are, more than a decade after the downfall of "Chainsaw Al Dunlap," and some editorialists are still pushing the "turnaround" fantasy on schools. So since fantasy is the name of the game, CPS can save the money and simply dub Cawley and Vitale their "turnaround twins."


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