CPS School Board: To elect or appoint?

March 6, 2015 at 9:43 am 98 comments


A quick search this morning on our school board led me to this article which I think summarizes the situation nicely and in an unbiased way and includes some quotes from some professors at DePaul.  Share your opinion in the comments section.


by The DePaulia


The DePaulia writes:

“The board is responsible for the finances, governing, and organization of CPS. So, the members of the board of education have profound impact on the policies and direction of CPS.

William Sampson, DePaul Chairman of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences said electing board members does not guarantee that the public’s values will be represented accurately.

“There is no assurance that board members will know anything about education or finance,” Sampson said. “Since the mayor will be held accountable for school performance, he or she will want to control the education process for which he or she is held accountable.””

““Elected boards, just as appointed boards, require a broad range of skilled individuals to be successful,” Horace Hall, a DePaul Educational Policy and Research Studies professor, said. “

The PROS of an elected school board:

“Elected school boards have their advantages.

“One of the major advantages of an elected school board is that it can bring all citizens closer to issues surrounding public education and criticality voice our needs and concerns,” Hall said. “This ideally breeds civic engagement and support.” “


“The main issue seems to be the balance between keeping the community’s concerns and involvement at the forefront of educational policy while simultaneously ensuring that the board has diverse and qualified members.”

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Rahm and Chuy and Chicago and CPS 2015 NEIGHBORHOOD and MAGNET Elementary School Thread

98 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Robin in WRP  |  March 6, 2015 at 9:54 am

    I was on the fence for a long time. In the late ’70s, my dad (a healthcare consultant) was asked to be a member of the school board; he declined because he did not feel at all qualified.

    What I know is that the current system does not serve our children, so let’s make a change.

  • 2. Jia  |  March 6, 2015 at 9:57 am

    as we all know, general public doesnt like to vote; which means ‘elected board’ really represents a small group of people’s interest. just look at TX and KS! is it truely better than ‘appointed board’? i dont think so. the point is ‘balance’. how about half elected and half appointed?

  • 3. Patricia  |  March 6, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I just have to point this out because it really is hilarious…………..

    “One of the major advantages of an elected school board is that it can bring all citizens closer to issues surrounding public education and criticality voice our needs and concerns,” Hall said. “This ideally breeds civic engagement and support.” “

    Could we get more civic engagement than we have now on education? LOL!

  • 4. Patricia  |  March 6, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Here is my take on elected school board and why it is NOT the solution people are looking for. There certainly is a problem, but electing a school board is not the answer.

    You have a school board of 7 people, currently appointed by the mayor. Those 7 people have to connect with 700,000 parents (rough approximation). That is a ratio of 7:700,000. Change to a different 7 people and the ratio remains the same.

    The rallying cry is for people to feel they are being heard. It is a true and real problem. So the CPS board (elected or not) needs to connect with 700,000 parents to the degree that they feel they are being heard. To the degree parents trust the decisions being made. (note: trust does not necessarily mean agree). This is not happening right now and will not happen with an elected school board.

    Board meetings are not the answer. I do not think anyone walks out of a board meeting feeling they have been “heard”. An elected school board does not change that.

    However, there is a solution right under our noses that CPS (and CTU) has stifled, the LSC’s. There are about 4000 ELECTED OFFICIALS serving on the local LSC. Already in place, focused on real issues in their local school. Usually 5 parents at each school. AND schools are very good at keeping special interests from getting on the LSC (a la Blaine) and keeping it real.

    What does CPS do now and really since LSCs were put in place? Treat it as more of a compliance issue. Nice knowledgeable people in the LSC department who know the laws and governance, but NO PRIORITY FROM THE CPS BOE to reach out to and engage LSCs for input……….before they make decisions.

    Does the BOE view LSC’s as peers? as leaders? as fellow parents working to improve the schools? is there trust between BOE and LSCs?

    The LSCs need to be elevated and given the credibility they deserve. This does NOT mean it will take more time for LSC members. The burden is on the BOE to seek the input (and I am not talking put a survey out).

    There is also some regional LSC council. Who knew? That should be a pretty powerful parent position.

    The structure is there, it needs to be elevated in importance, it needs to be truly collaborative. It needs to build trust. While this solution is not “sexy” and does not grab headlines, I think it is the way to accurately get input without handing it all over to the special interests.

  • 5. mom2  |  March 6, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Patricia, I like your thinking. That sounds very interesting.

  • 6. MOM7373  |  March 6, 2015 at 11:17 am

    My questions to the CTU members is if Chuy wins, will they still support an elected school board?

  • 7. Pro Elected School Board  |  March 6, 2015 at 11:25 am

    I am all for an elected school board. I posted on another thread that I cannot truly fathom how anyone on this blog of all blogs could be against it. As involved and motivated as people are on this board in education matters, we think it’s okay for a single person to designate friends, financial contributors and corporate shills to manage the single most important thing in a lot of our lives right now: our children’s education?

    I don’t. I actually cried watching parents stand before the so-called board, pleading their cases against closing their schools. Did any one of those board members visit a single one of those schools? Do they have any idea what it’s like to be a victim in the CPS system where your school, your teachers, your schedule, your application (to cite a most recent example) is subject to change at a moment’s notice.

    Yet many on these boards think that situation is better? Better for whom?

    If they’re doing such an incredible job at managing the system, why are we closing schools due to under-enrollment and OPENING charter schools in those same areas moments later? How are we spending almost as much money to close schools than to keep them open? How much are we spending for people to protect children walking to school? How long will that last? Will they get raises? Will they simply disappear? Don’t you think our rash of cold days off school (frustrating to say the least) were connected to the difficulty many kids now face on their walks to school?

    I know many people say that it had to be done and there was no other alternative. However, if you’ve never attended a neighborhood school, you have no idea what neighborhood schools mean to the neighborhood. The mayor doesn’t care about neighborhoods. He sees students and seats in school as interchangeable.

    And, yes, Patricia. We can get more civic involvement by actually having a say in who is on our school board. I am not against a split board, appointed and elected, btw. I am actually a moderate voice, with an edge to my tone as I am a neighborhood school mom. But I want at LEAST equal elected representation.

  • 8. Pro Elected School Board  |  March 6, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Patricia, I did not see your longer post before I wrote mind. That is interesting.

  • 9. IB Obsessed  |  March 6, 2015 at 11:50 am

    http://www.cpsboe.org/about/bios for the background on the current appointed school board members. Yes, impressive bios with some powerful connections. It’s not obvious how their backgrounds give them expertise in deciding education policy for an urban school system. Corporate consulting and law and folks with their own education consulting biz seem overrepresented on the board. How about some faculty from local universities with experience in urban education? Perhaps a school psychologist and others who can contribute their recent 1st hand experience with how board actions actually impact those in the trenches at CPS?

  • 10. Angie  |  March 6, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    @7. Pro Elected School Board :

    “I actually cried watching parents stand before the so-called board, pleading their cases against closing their schools.”

    I would have cried because these parents don’t understand how much these failing schools are holding their children back. For life.

    “Did any one of those board members visit a single one of those schools?”

    Did any of these parents visit a Level 1 school to see what a good neighborhood school should look like, and what their children are missing?

    “If they’re doing such an incredible job at managing the system, why are we closing schools due to under-enrollment and OPENING charter schools in those same areas moments later?”

    Closed schools were under-enrolled because nobody wanted to attend them. Charters are opening and increasing enrollment, and sometimes even creating waiting lists because that’s where people want their children to go. They were given a right to choose, and they chose charters. How hard is this to understand?

  • 11. North Side Parent  |  March 6, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    “we think it’s okay for a single person to designate friends, financial contributors and corporate shills to manage the single most important thing in a lot of our lives right now”

    You may not like him, but he’s the mayor. The office holds a lot of power. I disagree with your characterization of his appointees, and if you’re upset about corruption, well I’d just say that the Daleys were so, so much worse.

    We voted, Rahm won. You didn’t like what he did with the schools, you want it done differently. So should we have a different mayor or separate the control of the schools?

    Should we have a “Police Mayor” and a “Budget Mayor” and a “Schools Mayor” and a “Transportation Policy Mayor” etc.? Or are those powers better off combined.

    All I know is elected judges in this county is an unmitigated DISASTER. Everyone runs unopposed, nobody is held accountable, and convicted criminals wind up back on our streets way before their sentences end.

  • 12. jillwohl  |  March 6, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Pish posh. I don’t think a school board needs to connect with 700,000 people. They just need to be in touch with more than the one narrow and highly controlled viewpoint that they are currently receiving.

    I have had too many conversations with board members where it is clear to me that they are taking aggregated (and sometimes misleading) information they receive from CPS at face value. There is no dialogue or inquiry. I think they would fail if they were measured by the Common Core. 🙂

    What I will say uncategorically is that a school board should never be appointed by one person. It is poor checks and balances and a sad sad day in democracy to say, “well, that person got elected, so suck it.”

  • 13. Robin in WRP  |  March 6, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Charters are taking the higher performing students and, more importantly, the active parents, from the neighborhood schools. There is not a single study showing Charters performing better than public schools!!

    If the trend continues, CPS will be left with only highest and lowest performing students, and warehousing the profoundly disabled

  • 14. cpsobsessed  |  March 6, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    @jill, doesn’t the president appoint key cabinet people? (I’m terrible about knowing govt stuff so maybe he doesn’t..)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 15. mom2  |  March 6, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Robin in WRP, I asked before but no one answer me. In believing that most mayors make decisions that financially benefit their cities, I’m trying to understand the costs of having charter schools vs. neighborhood schools. Are they less expensive in the long run? (I agree that they take away kids from neighborhood schools, just like the SE schools do and that it isn’t fair to compare charters to neighborhoods because charters can kick out trouble makers or kids that can’t/won’t learn and put them back in neighborhood schools). I’m trying to understand if they help the city financially. Do they?

  • 16. Robin in WRP  |  March 6, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    mom2 – In general, no, they don’t. The Turkish group behind Chicago Math and Science has cost 100s of 1000s of dollars in FBI investigations. The for-profit charter companies (like Edison) are by law required to have their shareholders as their number one priority, not their students. UNO has had its own issues and investigations. The charters have their own set of administrative staff that need to be paid.

  • 17. Pro Elected School Board  |  March 6, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    @#12 What I will say uncategorically is that a school board should never be appointed by one person. It is poor checks and balances and a sad sad day in democracy to say, “well, that person got elected, so suck it.”

    Best argument for an elected school board I ever heard. Not that I voted for Rahm (I was probably the only one in my northside hood to NOT vote for him), but that is an excellent point. To add to #14, you vote for a President, but you still have senators and congressmen. He may appoint a cabinet, but you still have checks and balances at a far more local level.

    We have nothing. Absolutely nothing.

    To continue the conversation with #10 … This is what I got from a WTTW report. Not at all great news.

    “The report found that 93 percent of the displaced students ended up in schools with higher performance ratings than their previous school. But only 21 percent ended up in Level 1 schools, the district’s top-rated schools.

    One-third remained in schools designated by CPS as Level 3 schools; that’s the lowest rating the district gives.”

    Plus, it added that student performance did NOT improve if they went from a Level 3 to a Level 2. That covers almost 80% of displaced students. EIGHTY PERCENT did not go to a Level 1. Imagine that. That kind of improvement did not do what going from a Level 3 to a Level 1 did. Not to mention overcrowding, gang issues, stress, anxiety.

    Also, I DID cry for them. Neighborhoods mean something to some people. Manierre fought for its not-Level-1 school as it had services that mattered to them. And convenience that makes a difference in their lives. Connections with teachers over generations. I know at least four parents at our trendy neighborhood school who went to the school themselves. The school meant as much to them then (when it had classrooms of 45 kids and struggling a lot more than it is today) as it does now.

    If you are not from Chicago, stop and think for just one moment how you would fight for your suburban school if someone were to tell you you were going to be shipped off to another school. You can’t tell me all of you would have been A-Okay with the situation and trusted a school board that never stepped foot inside your school.

    I cry because I’m putting myself in someone else’s shoes. Maybe we all should try to do that before we become like the board members and simply look at numbers. People matter. And neighborhoods matter … or they should.

  • 18. pi  |  March 6, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    I think an elected school board will actually REDUCE democracy and accountability and increase the influence of special interests. Consider the fact that school issues have taken a center stage in the current mayoral election, with hundreds of thousands of voters engaged. In an election with maybe 25,000-50,000 votes can win seats, where the general public pays little attention, special interests can overwhelm the number of engaged citizens.

    If Rahm wins re-election on razor-thin margin, then I think he is forced to improve responsiveness to voters on school issues. If Chuy wins, then that’s prime example of accountability.

    The other problem with an elected school board, is that everyone can always point the finger at others for lack of progress. The mayor can blame the school board, since it is no longer under his control. The school board members can point to each other for not voting the same way (dilution of responsibility), etc. That’s the definition of lack of accountability to the voters.

  • 19. Patricia  |  March 6, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    @17 “You vote for a President, but you still have senators and congressmen. He may appoint a cabinet, but you still have checks and balances at a far more local level.
    We have nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

    BUT you do have the structure. The LSCs and LSC regional councils, etc. That is what is missing. The channeling up of feedback and genuine input from the trenches. Appointed or elected school board does not solve the true problem. If any legislation happens, it should be to strengthen LSCs not elected a school board. Much easier to accomplish and actually solves the real problem.

    EVERY CPS parent, all 700,000 of us, should feel connected to and trust that the CPS BOE (elected or appointed) hears us, understands our issues and makes sound decisions.

  • 20. Mich  |  March 6, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    I agree elected doesn’t solve everything, elections have their own issues. However given the current process I think there must be some change in the system.
    RIght now one person elects both the head of the schools and the board that oversees the head. There is NO check on that power.
    A change from appointed board requires state approval. But what if there were a way to add elections into it without changing the appointment in the end.
    Now this is a total pipe dream, but what if every network (13 without contract/charters, 18 with them) put forth a candidate and 5 appointments were to be made from those named? Further, what if people voted for who the networks put forth musch as we vote for LSC.
    Some people won’t vote, but I don’t think you say a system doesn’t work because some people choose to disengage.

  • 21. Angie  |  March 6, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    @17. Pro Elected School Board: “Plus, it added that student performance did NOT improve if they went from a Level 3 to a Level 2. That covers almost 80% of displaced students. EIGHTY PERCENT did not go to a Level 1. Imagine that. That kind of improvement did not do what going from a Level 3 to a Level 1 did. Not to mention overcrowding, gang issues, stress, anxiety.”

    And how many of these displaced students applied to Level 1 schools? As I recall, the waiting list numbers during the closing year were approximately the same as in previous years, meaning that many people turned down available magnet and neighborhood spots and went somewhere else. One would think that parents of affected children would have jumped at the chance to get their kids into better schools.

    Also, it would take time to improve the student performance, especially for older kids who may have been several grades behind when they moved to new schools. Give it a few years.

    “If you are not from Chicago, stop and think for just one moment how you would fight for your suburban school if someone were to tell you you were going to be shipped off to another school. You can’t tell me all of you would have been A-Okay with the situation and trusted a school board that never stepped foot inside your school.”

    First of all, I am from Chicago and have 2 children in CPS. Second, I think that people in the suburbs would welcome an opportunity to attend a better schools, even if it meant a longer drive or bus trip to get there. But that is a moot point, because in Chicago, all of the receiving schools were within a few blocks from the closing schools. Also, I do not believe that suburban people would ever consider sending their kids to a place like Manierre.

    “People matter. And neighborhoods matter … or they should.”

    Does good education matter? Does paying for half-empty schools staffed with inferior teachers really benefit the minority children CTU pretends to care about?

  • 22. mom2  |  March 6, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    @17 – “Maybe we all should try to do that before we become like the board members and simply look at numbers. People matter. And neighborhoods matter … or they should.” Of course people matter and neighborhoods matter. When someone here points out that it takes money to help people, neighborhoods and the entire city, people aren’t just “looking at numbers.” They are trying to honestly find a way to run the city and have it be a wonderful place to live and visit for everyone – every child, every parent, every police officer, every grandmother, every teacher. You simply can’t say that we need this and we need that without paying for it. Please stop saying that you care and others don’t. Everyone cares it is just that some people think we can grab money from “wealthy people” to solve our problems and the rest of us realize that this simply isn’t reality.

  • 23. observing  |  March 6, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    @cpsobsessed and @jill:

    Yes, I was going to make the same comparison…I thought the President appointed his own cabinet?

  • 24. Pro Elected School Board  |  March 6, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    #21 and 22, We’ll just have to agree to disagree. And that’s great as I would love to have someone convince me to change my mind. But I have not heard a convincing argument yet. Although Patricia had an interesting point with the whole LSC idea. That was cool to hear a totally different idea!

    BTW, when I said, “you,” I did not literally mean any one poster. I meant the “royal” you. ANd I am not saying that nobody else cares.

    But I am saying that even if we (including me and still a “royal” we) don’t understand why someone would want to keep their Level 3 school, I stand by my comment that we are not in their shoes. And by that I mean “me.” Perhaps others on this board had to fight to keep their school open. But I did not.

    I hope others weigh in. I’m curious to know what others think and I own’t post anymore on this subject.

  • 25. mom2  |  March 6, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    I do understand why someone would want to keep their level 3 school. People feel like it is home. They know the teachers and the principal and they know the route to school. They feel it is a safe place and they feel their kids are learning there. Of course they don’t want to change. That is scary and going to school in some neighborhoods can mean having to cross gang lines. I really do understand all that. I just hate that people think Rahm doesn’t understand that or care. I really believe he does. It is just someone at the top has to make tough decisions when there isn’t enough money to keep partially empty schools open. With abandoned houses and less school kids in the neighborhood and others having left for private schools (or later for charter schools that their parents believe are better places – whether they are or not), leaves a school building too expensive to keep running. He could have kept all the schools open and just let CPS be in even more debt than it is. He decided to risk his future to try to ultimately make things better.

  • 26. Patricia  |  March 6, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    With an elected school board, I agree with the poster above that it will actually diminish parent voice—-if it ever is able to actually get parent voice. (and never will because of the 7:700,000 ratio issue mentioned above.)

    Think how this would evolve over time. Kind of like how with “medical marijuana” you really have to make decisions based on when it becomes legal to everyone. Although, the selling point in the short-term is,, “don’t worry, this weed dispensary on your corner is just for medicinal purposes.”

    What happens when you do not agree with the direction or vote or teacher raise or closing a school or whatever…………..who do you vote out? The way boards operate is candidates get “slated” and if your “slate” is not in majority, then you are SOL until you can change the makeup.

    So……………the election cycle is what 4 or 6 years? So, to change a slate, it may take 4 or 8 or 12 years. Happened somewhere in California. AS A PARENT, I DO NOT HAVE 4, 8 OR 12 YEARS TO WAIT FOR MY MAJORITY TO GET IN PLACE TO MAKE NECESSARY CHANGES.

    End result, parental fatigue, disengagement, who the hell has time to fight for 12 years? Not parents, my kids will be out of school. Ahhhhhhh, but the special interest groups have decades to wait, millions to fight, full time people to plan and plot and slate their candidates.

    An elected school board is not the answer. Channeling power to LSCs is more real, realistic and relevant to the true problem.

  • 27. xan  |  March 6, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    I don’t think it makes a big difference either way. But leaning toward keeping it as is… probably less politics. Easier to blame/vote out the mayor when sh*t hits the fan.

    Definitely would like to see more power given to LSC to hire/fire principal for their school.

  • 28. jillwohl  |  March 6, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Sigh. “Those schools” were not all “half empty.”

    CPS used a jinged up school utilization formula, remember?



    Secondly, many of “those schools” were on the receiving end of years of cuts. It’s like a form of child abuse — Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

    Hey kids, I’ve got the cure. Let’s shut 49 schools down. Oh, and let’s open another 21,281 seats in a shrinking district while we’re at it. It’s disingenuous to say “we’ve got to cut costs” when net-net you’re not actually cutting most of the cost drivers!

    The bottom line is that we need a more participatory form of district governance because the current leadership refuses to have an honest conversation about what success looks like and how will we know it when we get there.

    If I ran a corporation like that, I’d be out of business tootin’ fast. Unless I were Radio Shack. Seriously, I can’t figure out how they lasted so long.

    LSCs? LSCs have no binding authority over the district; there is not even a channel for LSC members to weigh in on policy or provide any actionable input. The LSCAB is a toothless bread and circus; I’m not sure it ever served any function. CPS refuses to let LSCs communicate with each other and share strategies or best practices. What CPS has done is cut school budgets and narrow the principal eligibility requirements (and transparency of the process) to such a great extent that LSCs have even less power than they did when Daley took mayoral control of the district in 1995. CPS never much cared for LSCs to begin with, and over the years they’ve effectively given LSCs a smaller and smaller and smaller sandbox to play in.

  • 29. otdad  |  March 6, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Education is a long term commitment. Election will make the board members to make short sighted decisions only to please and buying votes. It’s a very bad idea to bring a election cycle into our education system.

  • 30. Patricia  |  March 6, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    @ jill. That is my point, not status quo LSCs. Use them how they should be used. How it is already structured. How there are already 4000ish elected officials in our local schools. Strengthen the legislation if need be. That would be much better, relevant change than the chaos an elected board would bring.

    I am so bummed, you taught me how to be a cheerleader for LSCs. What happened?

  • 31. xan  |  March 6, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Is closing failing schools such a bad thing? Who is the victim here? Are students from failing school put in a worse learning environment now compare to before? Hard to believe that is the case.

    I’ve changed my child schools more than 5 times within CPS when they are young it doesn’t make a big difference. My kid adjusted well in each case.

    “Secondly, many of “those schools” were on the receiving end of years of cuts. It’s like a form of child abuse. ”

    Budgets cuts are due to decrease enrollment at the school since it is base on student count. Students are leaving for reason….

  • 32. SouthSideIrish4  |  March 6, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    30. Patricia | March 6, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Rahm has stripped the LSC’s powers of so much, their voice really is not heard. We need and elect school board and to vote Rahm out of office.

    31. xan | March 6, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    ‘I’ve changed my child schools more than 5 times within CPS when they are young it doesn’t make a big difference. My kid adjusted well in each case.’

    Your kids may have adjusted, but they shouldn’t have had to. They should have been able to stay in a safe neighborhood school. And when they are young and changing schools ~ IT IS A BIG DEAL. Sad as a parent you wouldn’t care about that.

    ‘Budgets cuts are due to decrease enrollment at the school since it is base on student count. Students are leaving for reason….’

    Welcoming schools had a their school budget cut. Thanks Rahm for making kids leave their schools, go to new ones and then didn’t fund their education.

  • 33. Jill W/  |  March 6, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    @30 I would always still advocate 100% for people to be involved in LSCs (and not just the 11 or so people elected). I just have no blinders on. Of course I would welcome changes in the school code that would give LSCs more authority. Sadly, I don’t see CPS as being at all receptive, especially when over the years they have been a proponent (or deafeningly silent on the merits) of numerous failed legislation to curtail LSC powers or eliminate them entirely. So, CPS just decided to make the sandbox smaller in other ways. It worked. LSCs 0. CPS 1.

    Saying “We don’t need an elected school board, we have elected LSCs” is the same doublespeak as “we’re giving principals more control by going to school-based budgeting” or “red light cameras are for child safety.” No, you’re trying to cut expenses and grow revenue. Own it.

    This administration spins their public policy decisions so hard that they tilt like a pinball machine.

    And I still posit that having ONE SINGLE HUMAN BEING being in control of everyone who sits on a Board of Education of the third largest public school system in these United States of America is plainly undemocratic and wrong.

    @cpsobsessed noted that “the president appoints a cabinet.” True. Those appointments are also ratified by a confirmation process which includes extensive hearings and debate in the public forum.

  • 34. Robin in WRP  |  March 6, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    The President does not appoint the members of the Cabinet; they are nominated, and approved by Congress.

  • 35. pi  |  March 6, 2015 at 8:09 pm


    Lotta words but you really haven’t addressed so many of the issues raised. No one has addressed the fact that we are in the midst of high-profile election which is engaging the whole city in debates on education issues. Accountability to the voters is front and center. the buck stops with Rahm and he needs to answer for his policies. Yeah, closing schools is tough medicine that no one really wanted to swallow. On the other hand, can you imagine how long it would have taken to get recess into our schools — if ever — if we had an elected board? You’re asking to change that to a system that relies on low-information elections, with an order of magnitude less participation and a domination of special interests? No thanks!

    What did the special interests do to the LSCs? Well, first of all, it’s not 11 members on the LSC as you state, it’s now 12, as CTU lobbied to eliminate add another CTU member to the LSCs. CTU has also started a PAC to run its own candidates in LSC elections for community and parent positions. I guess their increase in seats is not enough. Gotta feed the beast. Can you imagine the resources they’d devote to electing a school board, given that they could then control their own pension funding and salaries? That’s the definition of an unethical conflict of interest and that’s the type of government you’re seeking?

  • 36. xan  |  March 6, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    It’s matter of priority and dealing with reality. I want the best environment i can provide for my child to learn NOW!!! I can’t wait and wish something is gonna change while sending my child to a failing neighborhood school.

    “They should have been able to stay in a safe neighborhood school.” Just unrealistic currently for most Chicago parents … sacrificing your child’s education hoping for change.

    I believe all the CPS schools had their budget cut. In the end, budget comes down to school enrollment. Unless, you think some schools are unfairly pick on by CPS.

    Give LSC more power and authority to hire/fire principals instead of being just a fund raising org. Parents have no voice now…

  • 37. parent  |  March 6, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    @7, “why are we closing schools due to under-enrollment and OPENING charter schools in those same areas moments later?”

    Because it isn’t a zero sum game. Families refuse to send their kids to gang infested neighborhood schools and work multiple jobs to send them to parochial schools. When a charter opens they have another option — a free, public option.

  • 38. jillwohl  |  March 6, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    @35 As Tay Tay says, “Why you gotta be so mean?”

    In case you didn’t read the full thread, I was responding directly to a suggestion from @30. Plus, my point is that having only one person — whether you like that person or not — in complete control of the school board is really not best practice.

    By the way, I said 11 elected people not 12 because the principal isn’t elected. He/she is automatically a member. Not to split hairs or anything, but high schools of course have an additional elected student member though with even less powers.

    I agree 100% that non-teaching staff should never have been added. The legislation (HB6017 in 2010) still roils me, as it effectively eliminated the parent majority on LSCs. I also agree that the bill was very quietly initiated and shepherded entirely by the CTU under Marilyn Stewart to gain a perk for its dues-paying members (PTSPs).

    That said, I really have a hard time conversing with anyone who is belittling to others and doesn’t use their name or at least a consistent moniker/avatar.

    @34 Thanks. For sure I wouldn’t pass the Constitution test.

  • 39. cpsobsessed  |  March 6, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Yeah, that non-teaching staff position addition to the LSC was an under the radar addition that seemed to be introduced without explanation as far as I could tell and still seems a little odd to me.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 40. SutherlandParent  |  March 6, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Thanks, @34, I was just going to tsk, tsk all those who didn’t realize the Senate confirms cabinet appointments! Especially with the current incredibly drawn-out process over Loretta Lynch’s nomination for attorney general.

    “Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, provides for the President, who “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate…” these high government officials.” http://www.law.georgetown.edu/library/research/guides/executivenominationprocess.cfm (OK, so I have a kid studying the Constitution right now :))

    And regarding the appointed school board, this is really, really not a common situation. I’m surprised people seem so willing to accept this unquestioningly as some sort of proven best practice or status quo. Chicago has the ONLY appointed board in the state of Illinois. The mayor of New York appoints the schools chancellor, but the borough presidents each have the authority to appoint one board member. I believe LA’s mayor has some limited power over the school board. I’m sure there are a couple of others, but I’d be surprised if it’s more than a few.

    I see a lot of issues with an elected board, but I find the idea of the current board being remotely accountable to anyone but the mayor (who appointed members) laughable at best. And while we all care passionately about CPS, there are a lot of voters who are totally unconcerned or uninformed about CPS and don’t even factor that in to the vote for mayor, which further guts the accountability aspect.

  • 41. pi  |  March 7, 2015 at 1:15 am

    @38 jill

    Apologies if you thought the post was belittling. Wasn’t intended that way. Tone is sometimes tough online. Most people don’t seem to use real names here — it seems to work most of the time.

    But, in all seriousness, I think you’re not addressing the issues. I’m not saying that to belittle — just trying to engage.

    We elect a single president of the entire country with great latitude to appoint the people who will run the executive branch in a manner consistent with his beliefs. Are you suggesting that a better practice would be to elect each member of his cabinet?

    We used to elect the president and vice-president separately — it turned into a little mess when they weren’t of the same political stripes.

    At what point to we stop? Should we elect every head of every department in every agency? Would that be more democratic? Is the electorate informed enough and qualified to do that? Or would we simply be relinquishing the running of the EPA to the fossil fuel lobby, the running of Ag to the farm lobbies, and the running of the Bureau of Land Management to the mining industry, and the ATF to of course the NRA? Does the electorate have enough time and resources to make informed votes on all those offices and issues? I consider myself more informed than most voters, and I certainly don’t have the kind of time or knowledge to be able to make those types of votes on down-ballot candidates.

    Quick — who here can name five water reclamation commissioners and county judges and tell me what they stand for? Most voters in Chicago cannot even tell you who their state rep is. Do you think our state legislature is an effective and responsive body?

    But most everyone in the city can tell you who the mayor is, some of the things he stands for, and what their opinion of him is. The buck does stop there. A very large and diverse electorate will turn out to elect the next mayor. No single interest group will dominate funding or turnout. Debates will be televised and many newspaper articles will be consumed by voters informing themselves. I think that’s highly democratic, and very unlike what a school board election would look like.

    Here’s what’s going on right now in the L.A. school board elections. This article describes race after race where the choice is between union candidate or charter candidate —


    “The two parties at play are the self-described as reformers and the unions on the other side.”

    Is that what we want for Chicago?

  • 42. CarolA  |  March 7, 2015 at 7:12 am

    @41 pi: You have a good point. Sad to say, I often skip over those long lists of candidates for judges, commissioners, etc. If I don’t know anything about them, how can I vote properly. Also, as mentioned, many people don’t even care about the school board. Many parents don’t care about school functions. Do you know how many people attend our LSC and/or parent meetings? Other than those on the board….little to none. I teach in a school of over 1000 students!

    I thought I was in favor of an elected school board, but now I don’t know. Very few people who run for the LSC have the bigger picture of the school in their mind. They usually have a private agenda. What can get accomplished if people aren’t willing to compromise for the betterment of the whole? We go back and forth on this forum and very rarely will I see anyone who gives a pat on the back to someone for helping to change an opinion by seeing another side of an issue. With the board selected by the mayor, at least meetings go quickly…everyone agrees! I know if I was mayor and/or principal and/or CEO of a company, I’d bring in my own people who think my way and bing, bang, boom, life goes on. Don’t like it, but is it better to have a board that battles back and forth that gets elected because someone closed their eyes and picked on the ballot?

  • 43. klm  |  March 7, 2015 at 7:15 am


    Thanks for making that point.

    The people that lament the closing of 50 schools and the way many families choose charters over their local CPS only-option seem to believe that they know better than other parents when it comes to other peoples’ kids.

    There are is a voluntary program in CPS designed to improve integration. The people that want to keep these schools open should go ahead and enroll their kids at schools like Jenner and Manierre —put their money where their mouth is. What do you want to bet that they wouldn’t seriously even consider such a thing, because, well, when it comes to their OWN kids these kinds of schools are not the right “fit.” For other peoples’ kids, yes, but not theirs.

    God forbid we give low-income families options and choices like middle-class people have, since they’re too ignorant of the issues involved to not be duped and suckered by the quasi-evil charter movement. Thank goodness that there are right-minded people out there that know better than those stupid families that apply to, use and actually like charter schools.

    Also, public school districts everywhere close, combine, etc. schools, like, all the time –even in the wealthiest suburbs when enrollment drops. That’s the normal, rational way of running things, since there is always a limited amount of money, even in the best run, highest-spending districts. But CPS –a district with a history of fiscal mismanagement and a dire financial situation– is supposed to keep low-performing schools that are 1/2, 2/3 or 3/4 empty open to make certain people happy? Huh?

    My biggest concern is that an elected school board will not make competent fiscal decisions and provide educational options and more opportunity for low-income families that have none, but kowtow to special interests and use education as a tool to advance an agenda, rather than as a tool to improve the lives and opportunities of low-income kids.

    My kids don’t go to a charter school because our neighborhood school is fantastic on every level, especially where it matters most –achievement. We are lucky enough to have the means to live in the attendance zone of an excellent school. We have the resources to move or maybe pay for private school, if things hadn’t worked out.
    Why is giving low-income people options other than a failure-factory local school “anti-public education”?

  • 44. Robin in WRP  |  March 7, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Or, to put it another way, why can’t Jenner and Manierre have the same quality of teachers and resources as Lincoln and Decatur?

    Let’s also remember the environmental reasons students don’t perform well in school: poor nutrition, gun shots and fighting interrupting sleep, etc.

  • 45. Patricia  |  March 7, 2015 at 8:56 am

    @ 44 Robin in WRP ” why can’t Jenner and Manierre have the same quality of teachers and resources as Lincoln and Decatur”

    The teachers may be the same quality or higher. Shout out to CarolA who over time has influenced me and helped me change my perspective. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought of making this statement 🙂

  • 46. otdad  |  March 7, 2015 at 10:38 am

    @44 Robin in WRP:
    The better question seems:why can’t Jenner and Manierre have the same quality of parents as Lincoln and Decatur?

  • 47. Angie  |  March 7, 2015 at 11:23 am

    @46. otdad: Even better question: what is easier to change – the teacher quality, and possibly the school policies, or the parents?

    These kids need all the help he can get. Giving them teachers that are good at working with children who are unruly, and haven’t learned much before kindergarten, is a start. Maybe even having these teachers take a special class on how to better work with inner
    city kids.

    Then, using something like Responsive Classroom approach and teaching kids first what the school is about, and how to sit quietly, listen, behave in class and respect the teachers’s authority and each other, even before ABCs, would help. Also, paying better for working in difficult schools, just as Rahm offered and CTU refused, would attract better quality teachers.

  • 48. Jill W  |  March 7, 2015 at 11:35 am

    @35 @41 Gonna stay on topic to reiterate: one person with far-reaching powers over such a significant governing body is antidemocratic. Saying the U.S. president appoints this that and the next…therefore let’s accept unilateral rule ignores that there are even processes in place for nominations, appointments and retentions associated with the highest office in the land, but not in Chicago, where the third largest school district in the country has a school board appointed by one person, and held accountable to only one person.

    And yes, when you write “lotta words” that is belittling. Some of your posts are not concise, but would I never make a judgement nor a snide comment about that. But if I need more than a sound bite or 140 chars to explain why rushed implementation of a given policy that sounds good on paper or works for your student (but not necessarily others), it signals that important conversations are not happening in the public sphere — or among our mayoral-appointed school board members. That why we need a system that results in a representative school board that is willing to dig into issues of implementation, sustainability, pedagogy, and accuracy.

    Once every four years is far too infrequent for Chicago to be engaged in a dialogue about public education.

  • 49. pi  |  March 7, 2015 at 12:55 pm


    “Some of your posts are not concise, but would I never make a judgement nor a snide comment about that.”

    You just did comment on it, but that’s ok. No offense taken.

    I’ll still take a truly democratically elected, accountable individual over a committee bought, paid for and elected by special interests in an election where a tiny fraction of the city population is represented. Its’ not fair to characterize it as a discussion every four years. An accountable person knows that every decision he or she makes is subject to ultimate voter scrutiny.

  • 50. Robin in WRP  |  March 7, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    pi – the teachers, maybe; not the books, science lab, Latin and music teachers, computer lab, etc.

  • 51. Hello  |  March 7, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    “Manierre fought for its not-Level-1 school as it had services that mattered to them. And convenience that makes a difference in their lives. Connections with teachers over generations. I know at least four parents at our trendy neighborhood school who went to the school themselves. The school meant as much to them then (when it had classrooms of 45 kids and struggling a lot more than it is today) as it does now.”

    And you don’t think their was a political play at stake here with the Alderman and the development in the area. Had nothing to do with their so-called services – which reality is far different from the picture you paint.

  • 52. Lord of Grammar  |  March 7, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    @49 Wohl said snide comment. Snide is an adjective modifying comment. In case you don’t have a dictionary handy, snide means indirectly derogatory or mocking, as in:

    In case you don’t have a dictionary handy, snide means indirectly derogatory or mocking

  • 53. CarolA  |  March 7, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Lord of Grammar: Relax, it’s just a blog, not a thesis! Warning…not sure I spelled that right. 🙂

  • 54. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 7, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    @37 @43 Except that CPS said it had a “utilization crisis” by having too many seats for too few students. They did not say, “let’s close the academically worst performing schools,” because many worse performing schools remained open. Parents who wanted their children to remain in the schools marked for closing pointed this out. Of the 10 lowest ranked schools, only 3 were slated for under-use closing. So we should conclude that parents chose to send their kids to the 7 lowest performing schools? Pfui. Of the 100 lowest ranked schools, the closing schools made up only 31 of them. So more than two-thirds of the lowest ranked schools stayed open. So 23, or 42%, of the 54 schools slated for closure, were not even among the bottom 100 schools in CPS’s own performance terms. 20% of the schools slated to close were level 2 schools. Rahm’s “we closed the schools because they were failing children” is either horse-shit or he’s really really bad at basic math.

    The people that want to keep these schools open should go ahead and enroll their kids at schools like Jenner and Manierre —put their money where their mouth is.

    That takes chutzpah. Manierre parents fought for their school to remain open. It was not “other” parents who did this. It was their activism that got there school spared. Why did they do so? Because CPS said they would have to go to Jenner! Jenner, the school you say no parent really wants to send there kids to.

    CPS based its closing decisions solely on the utilization formula after exempting level 1 schools, which it should not have done if it was about space. After all, if missing the space utilization formula mark is reason enough to be closed, then it shows, by the same logic applied to level 2 and 3 closed schools, that not enough parents want to send their kids there. But CPS isn’t that stupid. Lots of those allegedly under-utilized schools have wealthy, white parents, like me, going there, and while CPS can knock off one school of us, it can’t handle the umbrage of many schools of us.

    In many cases, no one from the board or from CPS central office ever visited the schools. RYH director went to several schools where the principals said “Thank you for coming. No from the district has come to look at our actual space use.” You can look at the hearing reports: the CPS representative cited the utilization formula results and nothing else. Parents, principals, and teachers pointed out at the hearings that some schools had extra special ed rooms beyond what the formula accounted for, or non-CPS programs used space in the school, which was not accounted for by the formula. The hearing officer had to ignore this because CPS was under no legal obligation to show anything beyond the utilization formula. No calculation was done based on square-footage of the building, yet when it was time decided the number of janitors for a school, CPS used square footage calculations to set the number.

  • 55. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 7, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    @19 There are no more regional councils. Those were abolished when total mayoral control was established in 1995. Prior to that the regional councils, elected a nominating committee that forwarded the mayor three names for any one open board seat.

  • 56. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 7, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Test strong

  • 57. Patricia  |  March 7, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    @55 There is some higher level lsc council, I voted for someone on it several years ago.

  • 58. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 7, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    @57 Are you sure you are not referring to the LSC Advisory Board?

  • 59. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 7, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Let me make sure I understand the anti-elected school board position.

    No taxation without representation is a good thing.
    The mayor has no formal authority over the CBOE tax levies. He cannot veto them. So we have an unelected legislative body that has no checks or veto points. That appointed body votes to raise tax levies, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. This is pretty much the definition of not-a-republic. Sorry, but non-republics are for cunts who don’t have the guts to kill the people who are holding them down. Now, we have an elected state legislature that can change this without us resorting to throat-cutting, so I’m all in for working through the democratic process. But when the argument is “plebiscitary authoritarianism is good for you”, I say with proud republican convictions to those talking this garbage: fuck off back to your play-pens, and let the people who think engage in political debate. Your lot are as useful as a marzipan dildo. There’s a reason that that 8 of 10 largest school districts have elected school boards. And that most school districts in the country are governed by elected school boards. Because most citizens have the ovaries to take politics seriously and participate. If others don’t, fuck’em. They get what they get.

    The risk of low turnout means we should not have elections.
    Sure, school board elections might have low turnout. But we already have low turnout for municipal elections, but no one argues that the county commissioners or the governor should appoint out mayor and city council. Less that 34% of registered voters turned out for the Feb. election, which means that Rahm’s 217,118 votes amount to 15.3% (rounding up) of the registered voters. What Chicagoans said by this was “all our political candidates are bunch of wankers. Eat shit, ya twats.” And frankly that’s a reasonable position to take. I can count on hand the number of Chicago politicians who aren’t cowardly hacks. If I put a $100 bill in my ass, most of them would lick it out if I promised to let’em have it. So anyone who wants to prattle about low turnout would mar school board elections ought to look at the miserable turnout we have now. More registered voters, over 66% of them, said this February’s election was not worth even showing up for. In fact, I’d wager you would have higher turnout for a school board election.

    CTU will dominate school board elections even though its members won’t be able to run, and it has failed to dominate mayoral, aldermanic, and General Assembly elections.
    I don’t give a raccoons’ prick — comparing dick size to body mass, raccoons are hung — about how the CTU does. But I sure as hell know they are not going to dominate the elections. First, they need to find non-CTU members to run, because any CPS employee will be barred from holding office. Duh! Second, they have failed to gain the allegiance of any other legislative body. Thirty plus aldermen called on CTU to stay at the bargaining table and not strike in 2012. Eight said they supported CTU. If CTU can’t round-up aldermen, they can’t round up shit. Is CTU going to give out money? Sure they are. But they’ll have to pay out way too much money than they can afford to lock-in a majority of school board seats. Name me five either aldermanic or General Assembly victories that CTU has achieved in the past two years. Sure as shit the pension legislation wasn’t one of them. Name them. Let’s face it, you couldn’t even name two.

    The elected school board must be seven members elected at large
    Who the hell said that? Certainly, no one who was advocating for an elected school board. The last draft legislation called for a 13-member board, with three members from three districts and four members from one, larger district. Most elected boards in large jurisdictions are elected from districts or wards, not at large. Some have one or two at large seats in addition to district seats. In some, the mayor is a member of the school board. When you create multi-member districts, it becomes a lot harder for any special interest to dominate the board. Such a special interest needs to field multiple candidates in different districts and fund them. Could a group fund four candidates at large?Maybe. But seven candidates in two or three districts? That’s a really expensive proposition because you need to advertise heavily in sub-markets to be effective. And getting a ground operation going is a lot tougher when you have to do it across different districts. Will the message that appeals to one group of voters, appeal to others? Can people remember three or four names among a dozen? Not bloody likely.

    Debating serious disagreements is bad
    The current school board rarely debates anything. In fact, at most a school board member notes an objection at a particular vote. But the appointed board never debates anything. In the past five years, I have never seen a board member actually argue with another board member. And there is no reason why they should not and then go have coffee, tea or beer afterwards to continue the conversation. But what we have now is a board that rubber stamps 99% of what comes before it. And the 1% usually ends with a fizzle. For example, at the Oct 2014 CBOE, Henry Bienen criticized the social impact bonds, but no one on the board addressed his concerns (Bienen presided over Northwestern’s transformation from an excellent regional university to a highly selective national university; he’s knows about financing).

  • 60. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 7, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    Are charter school advocates going to win seats or win influence on an elected board?
    Yes. And even though I oppose most but not all of the charter school positions, this is a good thing. Charter school proponents and opponents ought to debate each other at a decision-making level. The outcome of such a debate could be “gasp” a compromise.

    There are charter advocates who want genuinely experimental charter schools, whose models can be replicated among non-charter schools. This is what charters were supposed to do.

    Should charter schools be ended? No. There is a place for them in our system. Should charters be a publicly funded but privately guarded alternate school system? No. That’s not what charters were ever meant to be.

    We have the proof in the pudding. When charters are asked to cough up documents, they say “We are not public bodies. We are private 501c3 corporations. We don’t have to show you shit.” And they are right, if they are private corporations, and not public schools. If they are the latter, then put up or shut up.

  • 61. CarolA  |  March 8, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Christopher Ball: SHAME on you! Such language on a public board! I’m embarrassed for you. Are you that rude and inconsiderate? You can voice your opinion with better word choices. Ridiculous. I hope your comments get deleted.

  • 62. parent  |  March 8, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    @54, I’m not sure I understand your point. Do you think Level 2 schools do not have issues with gangs? I live near Steinmetz, a school on the NW side that everybody knows has a gang problem. Families with elementary kids spend lots of time figuring out a HS option other than Steinmetz around here. Still, it’s Level 2 — in the CPS scheme of things, “not that bad” — occasionally you’ll hear someone mention the IB program, but frankly I don’t know anyone who plans to send their kids there.

  • 63. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 8, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    @62 No. Many schools have gangs; even level 1 schools. Oz Park took down backboards one spring at LPHS request because LPHS students and gangsters were conspiring there. Or so it was claimed. (Exactly why they would simply not conspire elsewhere, I don’t know.)

    But I never wrote about gangs. I’m not sure — no, I am sure that I don’t get your point.

  • 64. lawmom  |  March 8, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    I am in favor an appointed board. Do we really think we are going to get the best and the brightest through an election process? We’ve done such a great job in Springfield and the City Council. I know two of the current CPS Board members who do not monetarily benefit by sitting on the board, and each of them is an intelligent, capable, empathetic human being. I have confidence in their intellectual abilities to read documents/policies carefully and make the best decisions.

    One of the biggest reasons I am not in favor of an elected school board draws from my experience serving on the Judicial Evaluation Committees (“JEC”) of bar associations. The JEC is a volunteer organization that “vets” judicial candidates and those judges seeking retention every 6 years. For the most part, the judicial candidates slated by the party, are the weakest candidates. They typically lack the intellectual capacity or broad legal experience needed to be a good judge. In fact, many excellent candidates lose because they are not slated because they don’t do the back room wheeling and dealing necessary. They simply want to serve and have the skills to do it.

    While many lawyers would love to have state judges appointed in a similar manner as federal judges, this would take a change in legislation that will likely not happen because it takes away political power to slate judicial candidates. Yet, former US Supreme Court Sandra Day O’Connor is spending her retirement crusading for appointed judges. Another large reason is neutrality, so judges do not have to be beholden to any political group in making decisions. I am sure each of you would want a judge that can interpret and apply the law appropriately if you had to appear before them and not have some person on the bench because they did their party boss a favor or big donation, etc..

    I am very concerned that an elected board would dilute the intellectual strength of the Board because of political involvement. I’ve seen it at work in our judiciary. My kids went to school with Rahm’s kids. Rahm can be abrasive, but he’s smart and he’s a fighter. He also values education. I trust him to pick Board members who have the tools to do a thoughtful job. I do sympathize with those affected by the school closings. However, I thought it was better to cut off the afflicted appendage all at once, than close 2 or 3 schools a year and have to repeat this painful process again and again.

    One tweak I would make to the appointment process is to require any Board member with school aged children to send their children to a CPS school. That way they have more “skin in the game.”

  • 65. SouthSideIrish4  |  March 8, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    64. lawmom | March 8, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    I know we didn’t the the best and brightest with the appointed board by Rahm. Considering now the investigation into Quazzo’s making millions off of the backs of students. The whole board is an embarrassment. You’re right tho, Rahm values eduction…but for his kids.

  • 66. WesLooMom  |  March 8, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    In theory, I support an elected school board. However, I agree with @lawmom. I fear that electing school boards will be like electing judges. Most people will have no idea who to support and will skip the school board section of the ballot. Even when organizations try to educate voters (like bar associations try to do for judicial elections), most voters will still ignore the school board section of the ballot or just vote for the slated candidate.

    If there is a way to include the parents/teachers/community in school board appointments through the LSC, I’d be interested in hearing more. At least the LSC’s already represent a broad range of neighborhoods and schools.

  • 67. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 8, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    @64 I agree about the judges, but this is irrelevant to an elected school board. Judicial elections are partisan; school board elections are non-partisan. Parties don’t get to submit slates or even nominate candidates. Do parties often promote pizzle-brained puffins? Indeed. Neither parties nor unions are in control here.

    None of the appointed board members benefit monetarily; they serve uncompensated. Except Quazzo. She certainly has benefitted. She recused herself in one vote where she had to, but there is nothing in the public record about her reason for recusals, even though board policy says that they must publicly state them( VII(a)(1) of the CPS ethics policy: “Disclose such Economic Interest publicly at a Board meeting prior to any vote being taken on the matter”). Other members may have failed to do so as well; it depends on whether their recusals were required or not.

    Many of the board members are smart people (I think the jury is out on Hines). But what good is it. They rarely ask critical questions of anything presented and often do not know basic facts about CPS polices. When Bienen said the social impact quasi-bonds were flawed because CPS would be paying a high interest rate on them, not a single board member addressed his concern. They ignored their fiduciary duty to CPS because Rahm had negotiated this package. Ruiz did not know that CPS requires students to score at a certain level on standardized tests to be promoted at grades 3,6 & 8. This has been a controversial policy since Vallas introduced it in 1996 and a subject of a US ED civil rights inquiry. And it has been repeatedly criticized by assessment researchers (because none of the tests used were ever designed for this purpose).

    I don’t see why we even bother with the appointed board. It is a rubber stamp. When Ames Middle School parents complained to the board about Maldonado’s plans to convert Ames to a military academy in Dec 2012, Vitale said that no such plans existed. Then Mal. pushed the board on it openly in April 2013, and Rahm announced that Ames would be military academy in October, but the board did not actually vote on it until Dec. So Rahm decided what would happen; the mayor’s press release did not say he would ask CBOE to change the school; he said it was done.. A yes-no question on the Ames was on the ballot for the March 2014 primary in the 8 precincts that covered the schools attendance area. Over 69% voted for it to stay as it was, with majorities in each precinct. And the board just blithely ignored it.

  • 68. cpsobsessed  |  March 8, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    Are the board positions unpaid?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • […] CPS School Board: To elect or appoint? CPS Obsessed: A quick search this morning on our school board led me to this article which I think summarizes the situation nicely and in an unbiased way and includes some quotes from some professors at DePaul.  Share your opinion in the comments section. […]

  • 70. SutherlandParent  |  March 9, 2015 at 9:20 am

    @64, I’m sure the board members are all intelligent people who love the children (seriously, can we all just drop the drivel about “caring about the children”? Sure, Rahm cares, the board cares, we all care about the children. Even if someone didn’t, he or she presumably wouldn’t be stupid enough to admit it). That doesn’t make any of them qualified to serve as CPS board members. Rahm selected them because they would rubber-stamp every decision he made–he didn’t pick anyone whose philosophy would differ from his own.

    And for all those complaining about the pensions, how did CPS get into this situation anyway? Wasn’t it because of decisions by the appointed board? An elected board might be a mess, I agree, but we know an appointed board has been nothing but a hot mess for going on two decades.

  • 71. 3rd grade - neighborhood school parent  |  March 9, 2015 at 9:44 am

    An elected school board, an idea which I generally support, wouldn’t make anything ‘better’ it would just change the issues at hand.

    The union would probably have an easy time supporting, promoting their ‘picks’. That’s for sure.
    There certainly will be an issue with ‘who’ runs, ‘where’ they are from (Southside, Westside, etc.), & ‘how’ they represent. Not trying to be negative, but even at the LSC level there can be issues of ‘representation’.

    And most importantly an elected school board works better when the broader parent constituency plug in, vote, voice, & participate. And all that effort is hard for a district that’s never done it (elected school board) before.

    At our neighborhood school, I offered to help get signatures, in Nov., for the elected S.B. ballot initiative. After volunteering, I discovered that the driving force behind the signature collection was our faculty – they had the petitions, the clipboards, the pens and ultimately provided much of the volunteers to work the effort. Not the parents. This saddened me and has made me question all the talk about parent/elected representation. Do we have enough independent parents/taxpayers who will be qualified and interested?

  • 72. pi  |  March 9, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Empirical evidence of the increased influence of special interest groups in off-year elections which have lower turnout…


    From the Conclusion:
    “This paper has shown that the lowering of voter turnout that accompanies off-cycle election timing does not occur uniformly across the electorate. Rather, it increases the presence of organized interest groups at the polls, with great potential to affect election outcomes and public policy.”

    The scale of money at stake in a CPS board election would be huge. In just the final year of the prior negotiated CTU contract, the contractual raises would amount to $400-$500 million (per year). And that number is dwarfed by the billions at stake in pension discussions. Certainly more than enough at stake for CTU to bring at least tens of millions of dollars to a school board campaign.

    Yeah, charter school finances are more opaque, so I really don’t know how much money is at stake for charter operators. But they definitely run their own candidates succesfully elsewhere and finance them well.

    The myth of a citizen/parent-run board in a city with these stakes is simply an unachievable utopian fantasy. How would any ordinary citizen compete with candidates who could access millions in funding?

    The fact that we have a highly competitive mayoral race is evidence that the best chance for voter voices to be heard is in a broader based system where the entire city is engaged.

    Whether Chuy or Rahm wins, I hope either will keep the appointed board, and I will want the opportunity to hold either accountable for CPS performance.

  • 73. lawmom  |  March 9, 2015 at 10:11 am

    @68. The Board members do not receive any compensation for sitting on the Board. However, some argue that Board members who have a business that might benefit from a CPS relationship may gain business that way.

  • 74. Chris  |  March 9, 2015 at 10:45 am

    ” An elected board might be a mess, I agree, but we know an appointed board has been nothing but a hot mess for going on two decades.”

    And the elected school board was a hot mess for 3 decades before that. How often were there strikes in the 70s and 80s??

  • 75. Chris  |  March 9, 2015 at 10:54 am

    “The myth of a citizen/parent-run board in a city with these stakes is simply an unachievable utopian fantasy. ”

    Bingo. We aren’t District 38 (Kenilworth), where it’s physically possible for an *individual* candidate to actually knock on every door during a campaign.

  • 76. cliff  |  March 9, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    “And the elected school board was a hot mess for 3 decades before that. How often were there strikes in the 70s and 80s??”

    Chicago had an elected school board in the 70s and 80s? This is news to me.

  • 77. cpsobsessed  |  March 9, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    And how was it a hot mess?
    (Beyond usual chicago politics)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 78. Robin in WRP  |  March 9, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    I must have slept through the years Chicago had an elected school board, because I definitely do not remember there ever being one

  • 79. Chris  |  March 9, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    “Chicago had an elected school board in the 70s and 80s?”

    My mistake–ratified by the council, and at that, for part of the time Sorry; bad memory. School Finance Authority phase had me mixing with other ‘troublesome’ school districts. Totally wrong, I was. Sorry.

    Anyway, still requires Springfield to act, and IF Chuy is serious AND he is realistic, he should have a plan for a non-official, but binding, election to chose who he will appoint. But he doesn’t, so I don’t believe he is serious–he will ‘not let a good crisis go to waste’

  • 80. 3rd grade - neighborhood school parent  |  March 9, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Chris – actually in K-worth they don’t have to (can’t) knock on doors because there’s a ‘nominating committee’ ….. it’s actually quite the opposite of ‘democratic-ly elected, grass roots, knock on doors’ campaign.
    In the one homogeneous, intimate environment where you could make that effort …. turns out that you can’t. (i digress; yet it still floors me).
    Maybe there’s no ‘perfect’ anywhere.

  • 81. Eric Traphagen  |  March 9, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    I’d like to humbly thank you for reading my article, it’s nice to see it has had in impact with my readers.

    I would, however, encourage everyone to read the full article I wrote for the DePaulia, as what has been posted on this site has been taken out of context and reflexts a biased view towards elected school boards, which does not exist in what was published. From my research, and from talking to several experts in the field, this issue is a very complex one and, like many highly debated issues, there is not a clear solution, if there was then it wouldn’t be a contested issue.

  • 82. cpsobsessed  |  March 9, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    Eric, thank you for commenting! Yes – always read the full article. I don’t like to copy entire articles (in hopes that readers will click to read the full content at its original site) so I will just pull some key points from any article I post. I attempted, at least, to pull points both pro and con about an elected board.

  • 83. Chris  |  March 10, 2015 at 11:58 am

    3rd grade – NSP:

    Did not know that but that is both interesting and not surprising. The town has always had an element of the “co-op board” attitude cross with the Chicago machine–don’t want nobody nobody sent, in a slightly more deniable manner.

  • 84. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 11, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    @68 None are paid. Hines whined at a recent meeting that CBOE won’t pay for her parking. This is typical of mayoral appointed boards, and most small-district elected boards. Some urban boards have either per meeting stipends (you miss, no payment) or a salary if you forgo other employment. No Michelle Smithing.

    There were 9 strikes in the 1970s and 1980s, or an average of a strike every 2.2 years. The last one, in 1987, went on for 19 days.

  • 85. klm  |  March 11, 2015 at 4:46 pm


    I kinda’ like the idea of CBOE members being unpaid. They won’t be making difficult decisions with the constant idea of “If I make people unhappy, maybe I won’t get to keep my 6-figure paycheck, so I’ll kowtow to whoever threatens to organize against and unseat me.”

    Look at the Detroit BOE. Just Google it and you’ll find decades of dysfunction, BOE members given private car service with full-time drivers (really –and the the drivers were highly paid, with great health and retirement plans. Oh, yeah they were usually a relative or close friend), flying to Europe First Class for “education conferences” when at the same time principals were asking parents to donate toilet paper when there wasn’t enough money to buy some for their schools, janitors (who had their own union that threatened the BOE when any changes were proposed) that made more than teachers and weren’t allowed to change light bulbs because that was the job of the highly-paid DPS electricians (who had their own union that threatened the BOE when any changes were proposed), etc. When any changes were proposed, the threats started, so people frightened of losing their lucrative BOE jobs just gave in to save their own skins. It was one big hot mess and when things were so dysfunctional and fiscally untenable, the state had to take over.

    I know Chicago’s not Detroit, and things would never be allowed to get that bad. However, but with an elected school board (especially a paid school board), I can see special interests that are more concerned about providing adults jobs, paychecks and job security than what’s in the best interest of children, having too much influence since there s always a finite amount of money to pay for instruction.

  • 86. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 12, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Umm, we have had problems like that here in Chicago with the solely mayor-appointed board. The sitting board president shot himself in Nov. 2009.

  • 87. klm  |  March 12, 2015 at 2:29 pm


    Yes, there are self-serving people in the world. However, Michael Scott did not make his livelihood and money from bring on the BOE, then arrange for his kids to get some kind of “job” in a larded up central administration or as an “administrative assistant.” There are always people who steal, use use business credit cards for personal purposes or for paying for $1,000.0 tabs at Gibson’s. Here, there was an investigation and people were being called out.

    Thing is, in a Detroit-type situation I mentioned above, the people keep getting elected because so many people are benefiting and they rally around a candidate because he/she’s for “protecting middle class jobs” —never mind that kids don’t have toilet paper in their school restrooms and more than half the light bulbs in classrooms are burned out, etc.

    Again, I don’t think it would ever get that bad in Chicago, but many board members whose entire income and retirement plan comes from being on the BOE will be more likely to support an agenda that keeps them in office, rather than upset unions, interest groups, etc. or create risks –especially when the tough decisions have to be made (school closings, lay-off, changes in benefits, etc.).

  • 88. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  March 13, 2015 at 8:34 am

    @87 Low salary or stipend, term limits, no franking privileges, problem solved.

    If the argument is that mayoral-appointed board members steal less, I think we have to re-think everything from the ground up.

  • 89. klm  |  March 13, 2015 at 1:46 pm


    I’m not saying that they’re somehow more likely to be unfailingly unlikely to do bad things as human beings (there’s always that possibility, unless we replace people with robots without bad software).

    I’m saying, overall, I put more trust in somebody to make decisions about my kids’ education and with public finances when they are not beholden to special interests (including unions that are motivated to keep and protect adults’ jobs [Again, nothing with that —that’s what unions are for. I’m not anti-union]) and the threat of an organized movement to have that person thrown out of office, “Unless they vote however or support whatever cause or pet project.”

    And, yes, if it is that’s somebody’s “job”/main or sole source of income/benefits and a large part or the entirety of their retirement plan (and we all know that would be the case with at least some people), I’m kinda’ thinking that the decisions they’re making wouldn’t be entirely objective.

    I mean, come on. That’s entirely foreseeable.

    We’d be looking at self-preservation over fiscal responsibility and what’s in the best interests of children and the public, I’m sure of that. Why? Because are already about a million examples of that kind of behavior.

  • 90. Darnell  |  March 13, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    I actually attend DePaul’s grad program in business and have had both Drs. Hall and Sampson. They make sense it the article from the DePaulia and you should include the entire piece. I think what we get with elected v. appointed school boards is “6 of 1, 1/2 dozen with the other.” I know both professors believe that whatever decision is made, we need to keep the public sphere public given the challenges privatization poses to civic voice and involvement. DT

  • 91. Katrina  |  March 13, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    YES! More civic engagement!

  • 92. CLB  |  March 16, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    @89 But what you have described in terms of career politicians applies equally to any mayor or any other appointing body, and so the appointed board is just the fruit of the poisoned tree.

  • 93. Stu Taub  |  March 17, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Elected school boards work about as well as elected Judges.

  • 94. michele  |  March 17, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Do you see any support for a hybrid school board say 70% elected positions, 30% appointed positions? Just seems like this approach would allow checks and balances on each side. Certainly could play with the percent of appointed vs elected positions but I can see lots of promise with this type of board of ed reaching fair and equitable solutions for the education of our kids.

  • 95. jillwohl  |  April 18, 2015 at 8:08 am

    Lotta words here right? Actions speak louder than words.

    It is abundantly clear that with this week’s federal investigation of a $20M no-bid contract unanimously approved by the unelected school board, that being appointed by a single person — the Mayor — who is unwilling to take responsibility (“that’s a CPS matter”) is not equitable, fair, democratic or RIGHT. The SUPES contract is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Set your assumptions and politics aside and demand that a school board appointed by and accountable to just one person is unacceptable.

  • 96. cpsmommy  |  April 18, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Does anyone else smell a rat in that the investigation conveniently became public a week after the mayoral election?

  • 97. michele  |  April 18, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    #95 Totally in agreement – Let’s hope the investigation gets to what the central issues worth investigating are – does central resource allocation (tax dollars) become distributed appropriately based on a democratic process or do those tax dollars get distributed based upon some pre determined construct like who has the most t[power to profit from the interaction?. FYI It is outrageous that it took this long for Federal intervention.Our school policy should represent our Parent voices – it is not that case today – but it can be – stand up and lend your voice – it will make a difference. Tell the Mayor you want an elected School Board.

  • 98. SouthSideIrish4  |  April 19, 2015 at 5:39 am

    97. michele | April 18, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    ITA with you! The ONLY ones not profiting/and suffering from the $20M contract is the students. CPS BOE has continued to fail the students. Every1 on that BOE should be gone. Ruiz voted for that contract and now he’s acting CEO~INSANE!

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