Penny Pritzker, whose family owns the Hyatt Hotels, has resigned from the Chicago Board of Education. The moves ups speculation that Pritzker may be tapped for the U.S. Secretary of Commerce position by the Obama Administration, although the short resignation letter does not name the reasoning behind her decision to exit from the board.
"I am writing to submit my resignation as a Member of the Chicago Board of Education," the letter reads. "I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve the City of Chicago, its children and families, during these last two years. Education is critical to ensuring every child has an opportunity to succeed, and I wholeheartedly support the work that you are doing to improve Chicago schools."
Pritzker passed on the federal position four years ago due to family obligations, but this time around seems to be putting her ducks in a row to possibly take on the Commerce Department post. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel thanked Pritzker for her work, saying she's been a "champion for Chicago and our students" in a statement.
The head of the Chicago Teachers Union, Karen Lewis, released a biting statement in response to news of Pritzker's resignation:
Penny Pritzker has a long and storied history as being an anti-labor, anti-worker kind of boss. She has supported policies that have had an adverse impact on working-class families and their children. As a member of the Board of Education she has worked to close schools, destabilize neighborhoods and disrupt the economic lives of thousands of public school employees.
In addition, Prizker’s luxury hotel chain, the Hyatt, has benefitted directly from the TIF program which takes money away from schools and gives it to wealthy developers, and she’s allowed this to happen despite the conflict of interest and the damage it does to our schools. We cannot imagine that someone who has a long history of bludgeoning Chicago’s working families and destroying public schools would be given a platform to continue these sorts of business practices on a national level.
She has been the subject of countless protests because of her business practices and for her support of policies that are harmful to students in Chicago Public Schools. The Chicago Teachers Union has certainly been quite vocal and visible in those demonstrations.
Now that there’s an open board seat, perhaps taxpayers will get a replacement who speaks to the plight of those who rely on our school district. The public has been advocating for an elected, representative school board for some time now. Perhaps the mayor will take heed to this call and finally appoint someone who is compassionate and dedicated to truly giving our students the neighborhood schools they deserve and not just become another rubber stamp for his failed school reform experiments.
Pritzker's spokesperson says the former board member and her husband plan to continue financially supporting education projects in Chicago.