The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is pushing back against the newly-tapped Chicago Board of Education members, whose appointments are likely set to be voted on Wednesday.
The new members will replace outgoing members Andra Zopp, who is running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, Carlos Azcoitia, Henry Bienen, and Deborah Quazzo, all of whom will see their terms expire at the end of this month.
"While these appointments appear to be a shift toward individuals connected to education, a closer look at their backgrounds shows even deeper connections to continued efforts at privatizing our schools," said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. "I just hope that a district which claims to be in such dire financial straits will refrain from turning our students' lives over to the highest bidder."
The union presented the following statements about the four new members and their alleged ties to the privatization of public education:
Mark F. Furlong, recently retired CEO of BMO Harris Bank, replaces Deborah Quazzo, founder and managing partner of brokerage firm GSV Advisors. Like Quazzo, Furlong is an education technology investor and the founding board director of the politically connected non-profit organization LEAP Innovations. LEAP Innovations, which has a $250,000 contract with CPS, helps education technology companies gain access to schools in order to use classrooms to test their technologies and build their reputations. Through LEAP, Furlong worked directly with the organization's founder and CEO, Phyllis Lockett, who is a long-time proponent of charter schools through New Schools for Chicago--another organization Lockett founded and runs. In addition, Furlong's bank, BMO Harris, profits off of CPS through a toxic swap deal which charges the district exorbitant interest rates.
Dominique Jordan Turner, president and CEO of the Chicago Scholars Foundation, replaces Andrea Zopp, president and CEO of the Urban League. Turner is currently a 2014-15 Urban League IMPACT Fellow and has strong ties to the charter community through her previous employment managing network growth for KIPP Foundation charter schools, and her training in charter school administration at the Broad Center's Residency in Urban Education. The Broad Center is an arm of the Broad Foundation, which literally wrote the book on school closings in 2009 with its "School Closure Guide: Closing Schools as a Means for Addressing Budgetary Challenges."
The Rev. Michael Garanzini, former president and CEO of Loyola University, replaces Henry Bienen, former president of Northwestern University. Garanzini is often heralded for improving Loyola's fiscal outlook, yet he accomplished this by pushing costs onto students and squeezing full-time faculty out of positions. During his tenure, tuition increased 73 percent at the school and the use of part-time and contingent teaching faculty more than tripled. Garanzini's leadership is in line with those of his peers who have collectively helped foster today's crisis in higher education. Garanzini also has strong connections to the Cristo Rey and UNO networks of charter schools, which will be providing Arrupe College--Loyola's new two-year college--with the majority of its students.
Gail Ward, a retired CPS principal, replaces Carlos Azcoitia, another former CPS principal. While Azcoitia has roots in the Little Village community school movement, Ward represents the Chicago elite and currently serves as an advisor to an early childhood school that charges families $24,000 annual tuition. She is also a board member at AUSL and Providence Englewood Charter School.