Consider this sequence of events:
In October 2012, Byrd-Bennett was hand-picked by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be CEO of the public schools. Byrd-Bennett’s appointment was approved by Mayor Emanuel’s hand-picked school board.
On the same day the mayor’s hand-picked board signed off on his hand-picked CEO, the board also awarded a $2 million [later $20M] no-bid contract to Byrd-Bennett’s hand-picked education consulting firm, SUPES Academy.
Did the board have reason to question that no-bid contract? You bet. The board has reason to question every no-bid contract. But more specifically, just weeks earlier a nonprofit group, the Chicago Public Education Fund, had declined to fund SUPES for that very same purpose — to train school managers — despite entreaties from Byrd-Bennett. The Fund was not convinced it would be money well spent.
Unfortunately, hand-picked boards do not challenge hand-picked CEO’s. That’s the point of picking by hand.
You couldn't ask for a better argument for doing away with mayoral control of the public schools and for a democratically-elected school board. Funny, but as I recall, the S-T editorial board has always been opposed to an elected board. Back in February, they mustered up enough courage to call for a “hybrid” board -- with a majority of members still Rahm's hand-picked cronies. Yes, they're okay with elections, so long as they're only cosmetic with no shift in power.
The other newspaper in town is more explicit. Their call is for the school system run by an all-out fascist -- a "Mussolini-type" dictator -- if you will.
|"Don't look at me."|
Rahm: "Don't look at me."
Rahm Emanuel on the other hand, wants to retain autocratic rule over the schools. He just doesn't want to be held accountable and probably won't be. Asked by a reporter whether he felt any responsibility for appointing Byrd-Bennett, the mayor did a "no comment". But then he commented anyway:
“The U.S. attorney said this himself . . . [this] is about Barbara Byrd-Bennett, it’s about the executives at SUPES, and both the actions they’ve taken and the attempts to deceive others.”Burns fiddles, Rome burns
Rahm's puppy-dog Ald. Will Burns (4th), who runs the City Council’s Education Committee, calls BBB a "role model for inner-city kids". He claims the scandal is no big deal.
So, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think Barbara’s indictment is hurtful. Part of the reason why is there is new leadership at CPS,” he said.Yes, new leadership will fix things. Except Forrest "The Fixer" Claypool is the 4th CEO under Rahm in 4 years. Changes without a difference.
My take is that the SUPES scandal goes way beyond BBB and her crew. Mayoral control of the schools has created a culture of corruption that goes all the way up to the top of the system. Turning CPS into a wing of City Hall -- one of the most disreputable institutions in history -- with an autocratic mayor in charge, was a mistake for which we all now will pay a tremendous price.