|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.|
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.
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.