Tuesday, December 23, 2014

There's Lucre In Serving On School Boards

Sun-Times photo
Forget the days when people served on school boards out of a sense of civic virtue. I've told you about how IPS' school board has been taken over by people who are merely puppets for the education profiteers. Their days jobs are the only reason big money poured into the district from out-of-state to elect them to the school board. The mainstream media in Indianapolis has ignored these glaring conflicts of interest. In Chicago, where they have two daily newspapers competing against one another, such matters aren't ignored.

Investigative reporters for the Chicago Sun-Times revealed yesterday that a woman appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the Chicago Public Schools board has invested in numerous businesses that are vendors with the system's schools. The business that those vendors got from the school district since Deborah Quazzo was appointed to the board has tripled since her appointment in June 2013 according to the Sun-Times analysis. The five companies in which Quazzo had invested earned $930,000 in district contracts between 2010 and 2013, but they earned an additional $2.9 million from school district contracts following her appointment.

The businesses in which Quazzo invested were not widely-traded companies; rather, they were five specialty software companies, including Academic Approach, Dreambox Learning, MasteryConnect, Think Through Math and ThinkCERCA. Quazzo earns a living as a venture capitalist. The Chicago Teachers Union and at least one of Mayor Emanuel's opponents want Quazzo to resign from the board. Mayor Emanuel was out-of-town on vacation and did not respond to questions about Quazzo. The board's president defended her, insisting she had not personally taken part in matters that benefited any of the companies and had always recused herself from votes in which she has a personal conflict of interest. A loophole in the district's ethics rules meant that she really only had to disclose her financial interest with two of the companies since the other three had contracts with individual schools within the district, not through the district office.

The CTU has called for the election of school board members rather than their appointment by the mayor. In Indianapolis, that has been no impediment to outside education profiteers funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into the school board elections to buy board members of their choosing. The editorial board of the Indianapolis Star has actually supported the purchase of these board seats by outside interests because it believes the so-called education reforms they advocate for the benefit of these board members' employers will improve the quality of the schools, the conflicts of interest be damned. It's remarkable how differently the media in Chicago views these same matters. It's just more evidence we've lost any objective news media in Indianapolis willing to look out for the public's interest.


Anonymous said...

Sacrificing the children in our country to the idol
of money - The people making these decisions know their own motives. Very scary.

Anonymous said...

Yes, anyone who thought the recent Indianapolis public school board election was "about the children" lives under willing self-delusion. It is about MONEY and it is about MONEY for the special interests represented by the likes of entrenched establishment Democrat Mary Ann Sullivan. The winners are not the citizens of Indy but the monied backers who own the victors in this race.

I used to consider it pedestrian to believe that most every establishment Republican and Democrat politician (it's just one and the same party anyway) politician that ran for office was all about self interest.

I now believe that is a fact.

Anonymous said...

I'd also be concerned about a handful of big law firms who are trying to gain favor with school board members so that the law firm gets hired by the school board for an annual multi-million dollar expectation.