The resignation of Penny Pritzker from the Chicago Board of Education creates a vacancy that will be filled through an appointment by Mayor Emanuel. Previous Emanuel appointments to the Board of Education have been made with no public discussion. In fact, the last resignation by a member was actually announced by the mayor at the same time that his replacement was named, with no opportunity for outside input.
However, when Mayor Emanuel appointed a new alderman for the 7th Ward, he established a process that allowed any eligible resident to apply for the appointment, and created an advisory commission that included community representatives to review the applications and recommend finalists.
After announcing the appointment of Ald. Holmes, Mayor Emanuel stated that he would use the selection process as a template for future appointments. If this process was good for the residents of the 7th ward, it should be even better for all Chicago residents who are served by CPS.
The new board member is being chosen at a critical time for CPS students and their families. CPS is facing massive school closings, a new budgeting process for all schools, new security arrangements, and other reorganizations. The Board, including the new appointee, will be voting on these matters in the coming weeks. In the wake of thousands of people attending school closure hearings, the next appointment must be made in an open and transparent fashion that allows the community a voice in the process. Our children deserve nothing less.