Sunday, November 7, 2010

Who makes education policy in Chicago?

I saw this Chicago Trib blog posting (on the Clout St. blog):
Emanuel sitting down with city education leaders as he plots schools policy

It struck me for how much it says about who really shapes education policy. (Hint: It's not teachers.)

The article is about Chicago mayoral wannabe Rahm Emanuel meeting with people who can both inform his education policy, and also fund his mayoral campaign. According to the item, Emanuel met with "nine local education leaders". They include:
  • Penny Pritzer, of the extremely wealthy Pritzer hotel, finance, etc. family, and one of the heads of the Pritzer Traubner Family Foundation (see below).
  • Ellen Aberding, president of the Joyce Foundation ("Working to close the achievement gap by ... promoting innovations such as charter schools")
  • Juan Rangel, CEO of the United Neighborhood Organization, "one of Chicago’s most influential Hispanic organizations that has opened several charter schools in Chicago."
  • Bruce Rauner, venture capitalist and chair of the private-equity firm GTCR, who also serves on the board of the Chicago Public Education Fund, "we are defining venture capital for public education, the next generation in school improvement" and "aims to be the best vehicle for private sector investment in public education". Penny Pritzer is the chair of the fund. What exactly they do is an interesting read, if you can get past the management-babble. The fund provides substantial seed money to get projects going, including most of the alternative certification programs at CPS, including the one I came in on (Chicago Teaching Fellows), as well as AUSL and Teach for America. Another objective is "drive student performance by differentiating compensation for principals and teachers."
  • Brian Simmons, with another private equity firm, Code Hennessy & Simmons LLC, and also on the board of the Chicago Public Education Fund.
  • Julia Stasch, a vice president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
  • Robin Steans, a former Mayor Daley chief of staff, and now director of Advance Illinois, an education policy group. Steans is a member of the wealthy Steans family which made its money in banking, whose foundation has been a major funder of a number of North Lawndale community projects. Advance Illinois focuses on teacher evaluation programs ("base teacher evaluation on performance, including the ability to promote student achievement"), "support[ing] districts to use compensation more strategically", and tying teacher training accreditation to teacher performance.
  • Beth Swanson, executive director of the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, and a former budget officer of CPS. "Partners" of the Pritzer Traubert Family Foundation include AUSL, the organization that manages turnaround schools for CPS; the Noble network of charter schools; and Teach for America.


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