Thursday, June 30, 2016

Broke on purpose: The price of 'reform' at CPS.

Tim Cawley was Byrd-Bennett's and then Claypool's  attack dog. He cut the Children and Family Benefits Unit which provided support for CPS's neediest students. 
Late last summer, in its haste to implement savage austerity measures, CPS leaders eliminated the 10-person Children and Family Benefits Unit, saying it was not vital to the core mission of educating children. The move turns out to have cost the district millions in poverty money that would have directly supported its neediest students.

Diane Fager, who launched the unit in 2005 and retired from CPS in 2014, tells Catalyst that she and others repeatedly told leaders that the unit brought in more money than it cost.
“People should know that this was not an accident. The reality is that without assistance from these kinds of programs, kids are going to school hungry so they cannot perform as well at school, and without health insurance they’re sick a lot more,” she said. “This was pointed out over and over in numerous meetings, memos and reports, and ignored, even at the cost of giving up millions of dollars in federal and state revenue.”
According to Catalyst:
 The decision to eliminate the unit was made in what, even by Chicago standards, was a chaotic moment. Forrest Claypool had just been named CEO of schools, and had pushed through an operating budget that depended on a wish: an extra $500 million from Springfield. Contract negotiations were heating up with the Chicago Teachers Union. A small group of Bronzeville activists were drawing national attention for their month-long hunger strike over the fate of Dyett High School.
And jobs were getting cut left and right, says Taalib-Din Ziyad, vice president of SEIU Local 73, which represented the unit’s school-based liaisons. The unit's manager remained at central office — despite not having any staff left.
Diane Feger
According to Fager, the real culprit here, besides Forrest Claypool, was [then-chief administrative officer] Tim Cawley, who pushed to cut any unit which had a funding sources that left it outside of his bureaucratic control.

I have written about Cawley often in these pages. Appointed by Rahm Emanuel in 2011, he was Barbara Byrd-Bennett's and then Claypool's attack dog before retiring last fall. Cawley represented the city in contract talks that eventually resulted in the first Chicago teachers' strike in a quarter century. He was the architect of the privatization of school janitorial services, a scheme that has left hundreds of CPS staff without jobs and many buildings ankle-deep in trash and principals screaming for mercy.

It was Cawley who became the main cheerleader for disinvestment in neighborhood schools and replacing them with privately-run charters. These were the very policies that led to the closing of Dyett High School and the ensuing hunger strike by parents and Bronzeville community activists that forced the school's reopening.

The dismantling of the Children and Family Benefits Unit was just one more brick in the wall that has left CPS broke on purpose. 


  1. Great piece, Mike. Thanks for posting. And thanks to Diane and the rest of us who have tried to do some good while working in the belly of the beast.

    1. Most the maneuvers blocked by Rahmster and his minions will improve with an ELECTED, RESPONSIBLE SCHOOL BOARD! #ERSB

  2. Ditto old hand.

  3. CPS Insider (Name withheld by request)June 30, 2016 at 10:02 PM

    I am very familiar with this issue... I hope that this story has some legs. It is one big example of our bad leadership. I am not even sure if they are diabolical or just incompetent. Or maybe both.

  4. Thank you Melissa Sanchez for an excellent article in this issue of Catalyst regarding what happened to the incredible Children and Family Benefits Unit (CFBU) that I ran for 9 years at CPS with an incredible team!!. I am also grateful that Michael Klonsky added another layer of the truth which is that Tim Cawley, the Chief Administrative Officer of CPS, was the main person who undermined the work of CFBU; tried to fire me for 3 years and cut CFBU. When I left, he had Ginger Ostro, then CFO, do the dirty work of slowly destroying the work and then firing the staff.
    Why? because they believe in Corporate "Reform" that cares only about privatization, standardized tests, demonizing of teachers and a total disregard for the fundamental needs of children in order for them to learn. The winners= hedge funds, Wall Street and mayors like Rahm Emanuel who share their view and desire for make endless profits at all costs.

  5. Cawley is particularly odious, not even living in Chicago, but receiving pay on the backs of Chicago taxpayers & on the backs of Chicago children
    (in 6 figures, as well) from the "broke" CPS.

    I'm sure he sleeps well in his insulated, posh Winnetka home, having invested the (unearned) salary he acquired (not earned--actually, stole). A most despicable thing. (I can't bring myself to call him a being, let alone a human being.)


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