Tuesday, June 2, 2015

George Schmidt/Substance on Chicago Scandals as Byrd Bennet resigns

Barbara Byrd Bennett was the tip of a corrupt iceberg, to use a dead metaphor in violation of one of George Orwell's main rules of political writing. (See "Politics and the English Language" for a guide to covering Chicago's public schools).
And most of those whose power pushed forward the kinds of corruption now being documented on the front pages following the Byrd Bennett resignation are still in power:
The bombshell was not a big surprise to anyone trying to follow the machinations of Rahm Emanuel's school board since the mayor's inauguration in May 2011. On May 31, 2015, Emanuel's second "Chief Executive Officer" at the nation's third largest school system, Barbara Byrd Bennett, officially submitted her resignation, leaving the Board's Vice President Jesse Ruiz to run the show in his position as "Interim CEO."
Byrd Bennett resigns... New documents show Emanuel and City Hall were in the middle of it all from the beginning... SUPES outfit worked with Swanson and others in the elite to pick Brizard, then Byrd Bennett...

RAHMWATCH: 'There will be no media availability...' Chicago's mayor will continue dodging the press even as the fire burns to his door in the Chicago Public Schools corruption scandals (yes, that's a plural)...

Where else would you expect corruption and scandals galore than in the granddaddy of ed deform? Here we see why having an independent ed press like Substance charting the history of Chicago school politics for 40 years is so valuable. And George in this email to the Substance staff (for some reason I am on this list) shows just how proud he is of the work they do.
WOW! As I was finishing up other activities yesterday ...my thoughts were actually focused on how completely we can now beat out our competitors on all the CPS corruption stories. The first thing, of course, is to remind people that every example of this nonsense was approved by a vote of the members of the Chicago Board of Education, so daily the question should begin with "WTF are you still dong here, David Vitale, Jesse Ruiz... etc.?" At the same time we can work to clean out this particular Augean Stable by identifying all those overpaid mercenaries that Rahm's "team" imported at great expenses to Chicago. 



Our historical approach to reporting has really paid off. It only took me a couple of minutes to find that picture of Beth Swanson from November 2008, when she was Arne Duncan's budget chief. We are definitely the only news organization in Chicago to have a collection of pictures of Sherry Ulery, Tracy Martin Thompson, Rhonda Corr Sargets, Bob Boik, Jack Elsey, etc., etc. ,etc.



And the other materials we have (including more than 100,000 indexed photographs, most by me and David Vance, but some by all of the rest of us) will make it easy for us to provide background as the explosions of corruption continue. I was really glad to have Marybeth's Board report (from the May 27 meeting) and John Kugler's shootings report ready to go when the Home Page got flipped to June 2015. 



But I have to tell you all, even I was surprised at the extent that the Tribune has returned to acting like a newspaper. That's a very good sign. The Sun-Times continues to so some good work, too. Despite some people's silly longings, Catalyst is still the same ruling class shill sheet it was when "Cleveland Catalyst" was touting the best school chief in world history -- Barbara Byrd Bennett ten years ago -- or when even before that they were discovering the brilliant young guy from Hyde Park and suddenly Arne Duncan was our "CEO". (I have to remind people some times about Catalyst's history, so that's this month's notice since now and then I get one of those "But..." responses...).
Another good reason for a news source like Substance is the coverage of the Chicago Teachers Union which even though under the control of friendly forces is not and should not be immune to criticism.

George and staff are on the case.
Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey spoke to the Board during the May 27, 2015 meeting. Among other things, he warned the Board that it was breaking its promise not to give away closed schools to charter schools by allocating Peabody Elementary School to a charter (on the agenda for the May 27 meeting). Sharkey noted that on the second anniversary of the massive school closings of 2013 (the Board action closing 50 schools was done at the May 22, 2013 meeting), the Board claimed that the buildings had tobe closed because they were "underutilized." He noted the hypocrisy of claiming there was no need for real public schools in some communities and then putting up additional charters. Substance photo by David Vance.

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