We have a lot of concerns about the process used to select new members of the Board of Education. Mayor Emanuel, on his recent election, pledged to be a listener, a collaborator with the community. What happened to that promise? There has been no explanation of who these new CPS Board members are, why they were chosen, and what specific education expertise they would bring to the table.
We would like to know how many of our current school board members have children in CPS? What are their connections to the communities primarily served by our schools? What guarantees do we have that they will be responsive to parent and teacher concerns? There continues to be not enough representation from parents and traditional district schools, people with the most stake in our schools.
The appointees are new but the policies some are associated with appear to be more of the same. Mark Furlong, a banker, was recently the board chair of LEAP Innovations, an ed tech incubator that has contracts with CPS. LEAP received money from the Broad and Gates Foundations and the Chicago Fund for Education (the same group that brought us the SUPES contract initially.) Dominique Turner was a Broad Foundation fellow, the same foundation that brought us Barbara Byrd Bennett. She previously worked to expand KIPP - a chain of charter schools. Gail Ward was a former CPS principal but is a board member of private and charter schools.
If the appointees promote some of the flawed policies of the groups they are affiliated with -- the promotion of school closings, turnarounds, and "choice" by expanding charters -- and continue the practice of doing business with organizations on which board appointees serve, RYH believes our children are not well served.
We will continue to push with other community groups around the city for an elected school board so that there’s real accountability and transparency in our system. 89% of voters in 37 wards were in favor of an elected school board when asked in February 2015.