Penny Pritzker resigned from the Chicago Board of Education on Thursday, possibly to become Commerce Secretary in the administration of Barack Obama, for whom she has raised millions of dollars since his 2004 Senate race.
Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis, a Kenwood High School graduate who has chafed under the authority of private school princes and princesses like Pritzker and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, penned one of the nastiest farewells since H.L. Mencken eulogized William Jennings Bryan. Here is Lewis’s reaction to Pritzker’s departure.
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.