Sunday, September 9, 2012

With Strike Looming, Substance Needs Your Support

George Schmidt writes:
As of Friday, we had $900 in the Substance checking account, owed about $5,000 in federal taxes, and faced a $4,000 cost for printing and mailing the September 2012 print edition after we print it Wednesday (September 12). We decided last week to defer the publication of the September issue because had we gone to press on September 4, the headline would have been


But when we go to the printer on September 11th or 12th (depending upon how things go tomorrow) the headline will be


Everyone here will be "broke" in one sense over the next few months. After all, you can't take on the Empire and expect to come out without casualties.

When all heck breaks loose after midnight tonight, we will be devoting all of our time (instead of just 90 percent of it) to publishing every story we can get, and all the analysis we can provide.
Substance has been the major source of information for Chicago teachers for over 40 years. With full monthly print editions, in addition to having a well-read web presence, the work of publisher/editor George Schmidt and his wife Sharron has played a major role in the growth of CORE from its founding days in 2008 (George was one of the founders) to taking over the Chicago Teachers Union just two years later. Substance spread the word about CORE to every school in the city.


Don't think print is dead and its all about the web. During the 2001 union elections in Chicago, George delivered copies of Substance to the school mailbox of every teacher 3 times during the election period. That election was won by Debbie Lynch over the Unity style leadership, an election that was a precursor in many ways to the 2010 CORE victory (Debbie's caucus got over 15% of the vote in '10 and she threw her support to CORE in the runoff which helped them get 60%).


In many ways, Substance was the inspiration for Ed Notes' expansion from a newsletter at Delegate Assemblies to a full-fledged tabloid which led to the founding of ICE which led to the founding of GEM and both groups have played a major role in the founding of MORE. (See: My Path from Ed Notes to MORE Through ICE and GEM and MORE).


 Really, if you want to know what is going on in Chicago education read articles like this:

Press conference shows community support for CTU strike as contract talks stall because of CPS

and here is the kind of nugget you cannot get anywhere:

BOARDWATCH: Rahm's going to replace Jean-Claude Brizard with Barbara Byrd Bennett... One FNG outsider is as good as another, as long as she's been vetted by the Broad Foundation and checks off that 'diversity' box in the billionaire's check list

LET'S CALL THIS: "WHO WAS ON THAT ELEVATOR?" Yesterday as I covered the quickie exit of the CPS negotiating team from CTU headquarters for Substance, I was struck by the fact that our quarter million dollar "Chief Executive Officer", Jean-Claude Brizard, was again AWOL from the bargaining. That's nothing new. After all, the negotiations have been going on, through more than 55 sessions, since November 2011, and Brizard has managed to get away with that particular truancy the whole time.
Above, the latest "Chief Education Officer" of Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd Bennett, tries to cover her face while reporters ask questions and TV cameras film the quickie exit of the Chicago Public Schools bargaining team from the Chicago Teachers Union's Merchandise Mart headquarters on September 7, 2012. Byrd Bennett six months ago was working in Detroit, where the project of destroying the city's real public schools had advanced much further than Chicago's. Then the abrupt (and still unexplained) departure of "Chief Education Officer" Noemi Donoso (in office for less than one year as part of the Rahm Emanuel education reform team at CPS) required a new Chief Ed Officer. As the Emanuel administration knows there is not one person in Chicago qualified for the top executive posts at CPS, the Board of Education once again turned to the Broad Foundation and located the most talented person out in Detroit. Rumor now is that Byrd-Bennett is being groomed, with almost embarrassing speed, to take over from Jean-Claude Brizard when the mayor decides to blame Brizard for the catastrophe that he has engineered. Behind Byrd-Bettet above is Emanuel's education liaison, Beth Swanson, who less than five years ago was a CPS budget chief and telling the world that CPS finances were so good CPS didn't need a property tax increase. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.
But there was a group of six people — the CPS "bargaining team" of September 7, 2012 — desperately waiting for that elevator door to close, and it's worth sharing a "Who's Who" of who was in that groups. This is especially important since most of the current crop of talking heads and pretty faces in the "news" business in Chicago are as clueless as some metaphor that might today escape me (well, I'll let someone with a more politically correct mind come up with the metaphor for that level of journalistic degeneration in the Second City; all the ones that come to my mind this morning fall into traditional Chicago historical figures like Hinky Dink and Bathhouse John and their side businesses...).

No Brizard at the Mart on September 7, 2012. And to most reporters in this town, the six people who were there are unknowns because, like the fifth season of "The Wire", Chicago's news persons are less than informed about the stories they have to cover. ("Beats" are where you learn the ins and outs, but beats are not "cost effective" in a business that provides "content" but no longer context or accuracy).

A major fact of the Board of Education's latest "team" at the CTU is that the FNG from Detroit — ("Chief Education Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett) — was part of the six people who ducked quickly into the elevator at the Merchandise Mart and did the bugout boogie as reporters tried to get questions answered. If this were New York, where there are still some reporters who know the beats, somebody besides Substance this morning would be asking how an FNG administrator who just arrived from destabilizing and privatizing Detroit could become, overnight, one of the six most important educational executives in the nation's third largest school district on the verge of the first massive teacher strike in a quarter century.
As late as six months ago, no one in the world would have guessed that on day soon "Barbara Byrd-Bennet" would be one of the six most important people in Chicago in deciding whether Chicago's kids (including my two littlest ones) would be in school on Monday or helping Mom and Dad on the picket line.

READ MORE of this insightful reporting by George:

And yes, don't forget to either


In a follow-up I will make available to you George's short book "The AFT and the CIA" a blockbuster he wrote on the late 70s. We have an exclusive reprint the first one in over 20 years.

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