Posts Tagged ‘Penny Pritzker’

PSAT for 12-11-12: Make merry! Watch and share new CTU cartoon satire of corporate reformers

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The Chicago Teachers’ Union has done it again! They have gifted us yet another sharp tool for our public school support kit. This time it’s a spot-on satirical cartoon skewering on Chicago’s corporate reformers. Dangling at the end of the lampoon are some of PURE’s favorite goofballs: Penny Pritzker, Bruce Rauner, Robin Steans, Stand for Children, and, of course, Mr Secret Sauce himself, Mayor Emanuel.

Rauner isn’t taking it well (fat cats hate to be made fun of). Fuming to the Sun-Times, Rauner said, “To be lectured by a leader of a failed union who protects a failed school system would be laughable if it were not so sad. These union leaders are a joke, just not a funny one.”


CPS called the video “mean-spirited.” OK, more mean-spirited than closing schools and sending students to worse alternatives? Not tracking these students as promised? Flunking students based on one test score when the test is not designed for that purpose, and when flunking usually hurts more than it helps? Ignoring a state-mandated facilities committee that had gone a long way towards holding CPS and the city accountable for their unfair funding decisions, then replacing it with a “commission” that claims it will truly this time trust us listen to the community, as it holds last-minute pseudo-hearings in churches run by Mayoral pals? More mean-spirited that that?

It’s just a cartoon, folks. Watch it, share it, enjoy it. We need the laugh. Be merry!


PSAT for 8-7-12: Boycott Hyatt for public education

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

A recent article by Chicago Teachers Union staff coordinator and activist Jackson Potter inspired me to renew my call for the use of boycotts to fight corporate school reform.

Jackson has always been one of the few who share my belief in the powerful impact a boycott can have on the fat cats who fund and direct corporate school reform.

Boycotts used to succeed or fail based on the economic impact they had on the corporate bottom line but that’s really not how they have worked for a while.

I have in mind the kind of boycott that targets a company’s public image. It works because a lot of corporations consider good deeds to be simply one aspect of their advertising program. They don’t want any bad advertising or other bad karma associated with their product.

I know this is true because I cut my organizing teeth on PURE’s Walgreen’s boycott back in 1993.

Jackson led some Chicago GEM folks in a picket of McDonald’s back in 2009 to protest the fact that the CEO of McD’s chaired the Renaissance 2010 Fund. The action drove a McD’s PR man out to Hyde Park to see what was going on. This stuff scares them.

Anyway, while I have sporadically suggested going after folks like Bill Gates’ and his image as a great, big-hearted do-gooder, and others behind the attack on public education – United Way, Eli Broad, Robin Steans, BP, Ford, Hewlett, Philip Anschutz, the Koch brothers, Searle Freedom Trust, and on and on, I am going to begin today to pick on someone icky for the first PSAT of every month. And, yes, I will give you at least one idea about what to do to help with this school reform-related boycott.

So – our inaugural PSAT Boycott of the month award goes to my favorite icky person, billionaire Chicago Board of Education member Penny Pritzker.

And here’s what you can do. Of course, stop stay8inbg at Hyatts, if you ever did.

And come early to Hyde Park tomorrow for the Parent-Teacher forum and join folks at the site of the new Hyatt Hotel which is being built courtesy of TIF money that ought to be going to our schools. The demonstration is sponsored by the Chicago Teachers’ Solidarity Campaign.

Meet up at 53rd and Lake Park at 5:30 pm this Wednesday Aug. 8 and then come on over to the forum at the United Church of Hyde Park down the street at 53rd and Blackstone, which starts at 6:30.

It’s about the profit, stupid

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Please take a few minutes to read this sharp analysis of why the Penny Pritzkers of America suddenly seem to care about our children’s education, by David Sirota in Salon.

Here’s a taste:

On one side are self-interested teachers unions who supposedly oppose fundamental changes to schools, not because they care about students, but because they fear for their own job security and wages, irrespective of kids. In this mythology, they are pitted against an alliance of extraordinarily wealthy corporate elites who, unlike the allegedly greedy unions, are said to act solely out of the goodness of their hearts. We are told that this “reform” alliance of everyone from Rupert Murdoch to the Walton family to leading hedge fundersspends huge amounts of money pushing for radical changes to public schools because they suddenly decided that they care about destitute children, and now want to see all kids get a great education.

The dominant narrative, in other words, explains the fight for the future of education as a battle between the evil forces of myopic selfishness (teachers) and the altruistic benevolence of noblesse oblige (Wall Street). Such subjective framing has resulted in reporters, pundits and politicians typically casting the “reformers'” arguments as free of self-interest, and therefore more objective and credible than teachers’ counterarguments….

As Brill and most other education correspondents tell it, those most aggressively trying to privatize public schools and focus education around standardized tests just “happen to be” Wall Streeters — as if that’s merely a random, inconsequential coincidence. Somehow, we are to assume that these same Wall Streeters who make millions off of “parasitic” investment schemes to leech public institutions for private profit couldn’t have ulterior motives when it comes to public schools.

No, in the standard fairy tale sold as education journalism, these “reformers” are presented as having had an honest, entirely altruistic “epiphany” that led them to discover that “the reforms that are necessary” (ie., only the policies Wall Street deems acceptable) comprise “the civil rights issue of this era.”

In this framing, millionaires and billionaires trying to eviscerate traditional public education from their Manhattan office suites are the new Martin Luther Kings — even though the  empirical data tell us that their schemes to charter-ize and privatize schools have been a systemic failure, often further disadvantaging the most economically challenged students of all (one example: see Stanford’s landmark study showing more than a third of kids whom reformers ushered into charter schools were educationally harmed by the move).

Penny’s thoughts

Friday, May 6th, 2011

I have a feeling that Penny Pritzker quotes are going to become a regular feature of PURE Thoughts, now that she’s about to join the Board of Education as part of Mayor-elect Emanuel’s “whole new leadership suite.”

Here’s one from a discussion about lengthening the school day at yesterday’s Chicago-based NBC “Education Nation” program, as reported in the Sun-Times:

Pritzker said she was impressed with a pilot program started under former Schools CEO Ron Huberman that added 90 minutes in 15 schools using online work in math and reading and help from mostly non-teaching staff. Young children were engrossed by the computerized program, sitting “absolutely silently, doing English and math,’’ Pritzker said. Two fourth-grade boys who competed against each other all year to finish the fourth-grade online math program were ready to advance to fifth by December, she said.

I’m sure that’s exactly what Penny’s education was like, and what she wanted for her own children.

PSAT for 3-22-11, Part 2: Boycott Angel Soft

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

My boycott of Penny Pritzker’s investment business, Wal-Mart, Microsoft and others is going slowly (Bill Gates hasn’t cried uncle yet — I’ll get him eventually!), but the movement is building!

Folks are now targeting David Koch and Koch Industries to protest Koch’s support of Wisconsin Governor and union buster Scott Walker both directly and through the front group Americans for Prosperity. Most of Koch Industries products are building materials (list here) but if you’re not a contractor or in the midst of a major home renovation, there are a few other things we can start not buying right away:

  • Angel Soft toilet paper
  • Brawny paper towels
  • Dixie plates, bowls, napkins and cups
  • Mardi Gras napkins and towels
  • Quilted Northern toilet paper
  • Soft ‘n Gentle toilet paper
  • Sparkle napkins
  • Vanity fair napkins
  • Georgia-Pacific paper products and envelopes

And people in Wake County, NC, are targeting Pope Industries:

The Pope family locates their dollar/wholesale stores in low income African-American neighborhoods. (This strategy was spelled out… on their Web site until just a few weeks ago.)  The Popes have the same agenda as the Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity (Pope-funded), and our local Civitas Institute and John Locke Foundations. (Guess who funds these???)  Pope stores are located in AL, DE, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, PA, SC, VA, and W.Va.

North Carolina folks are accusing Pope of pushing for resegregation and privatization of their public schools. Here’s the flier for their recent action.

Last month I asked why the New York State Teachers’ Pension Fund would give Chicago investment banker and Renaissance Fund supporter Penny Pritzker $50 million of teacher money (including my Mom’s pension!) to play with when she is one of the biggest supporters of school closings and charterization.

Come on, folks. Let’s stop adding fuel to the fire – we’re only helping them burn up our families, schools, jobs, and communities. A national boycott is the only way to get the attention of these corporate honchos. Don’t let them into your neighborhood – your home — and certainly not your bathroom!

Are secret donors trying to buy voucher/charter support?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown wrote last week about a campaign fundraising group, For A Better Chicago PAC, which has made generous donations to 16 aldermanic candidates (list below) while refusing to disclose where their money came from. They claim an exemption under a loophole for non-profits, though that claim is being challenged by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform in a formal complaint with the State Board of Elections.

Brown has written about this group before. Their leader, Gary Goldner, ran Mayor Daley’s 2003 re-election bid and Rahm Emanuel’s successful bid for Congress in 2002.

Brown reports that it is unclear what FABC-PAC wants, “although most say it is a pro-business group with a particular interest in charter schools.”

Here’s the group’s education “platform,” which uses all the buzz words of voucher/charter and pay-teachers-for-test score promoters without specifically mentioning that agenda:

Since mayoral control of the Chicago Public Schools system was restored in 1995, many schools have made tremendous progress. At the same time, parents in many neighborhoods still do not have viable options for sending their children to a school that provides a world-class education, whether it is a public, neighborhood, magnet, selective enrollment, charter or specialized school.

For a Better Chicago PAC advocates that during these dire times, while more and more children are failing to make adequate progress in the classroom, nothing can be considered, ‘off the table.’ If Chicago is to maintain its position as a truly world-class city, we must provide our children with a world-class education. We cannot have a world-class education system without teachers who are supported, well-trained and compensated fairly for student growth. Now is the time for bold and innovative reforms that reward teachers and schools that show significant progress while holding failures accountable.

Receiving FABC-PAC funds are candidates Carrie Austin (34th), Anthony Beale (9th), Howard B. Brookins Jr. (21st), Will Burns (4th), Willie Cochran (20th), Tim Cullerton (38th), Deborah Graham (29th), Michelle Harris (8th), Lona Lane (18th), Fredrenna Lyle (6th), Roberto Maldonado (26th), Emma Mitts (37th), Genita Robinson (2nd), Debra Silverstein (50th), Latasha Thomas (17th), and JoAnn Thompson (16th).

Each of them reported receiving $10,000, except for Maldonado, who got $25,000.

Stand for Children cousin?

FABC-PAC sounds like a cousin to Stand for Children, the Oregon-based, Bill Gates-funded group that gave more than half a million dollars to state legislative candidates, which almost immediately bought them a place at the grown-ups table at the “Education Reform” hearings last December out in Aurora.

But at least we know who supplied a lot of that half million, the Crown and Pritzker families, who are also big donors to Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign

Why is the NY teachers’ pension fund enriching anti-public schools Penny Pritzker?

Thursday, February 17th, 2011
Hyatt Hotel

Some are already boycotting Hyatt Hotels

You know that I think we should all be boycotting Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and other billionaire supporters of privatizing public schools.

But the problem is that most of the anti-public school crowd is made up of investment bankers, hedge funders and others whose jobs I can’t even begin to describe, much less figure out how to include in the boycott.


when I read that one of my favorite non-favorites, Penny Pritzker, has started up a new private equity firm which has just received a $50 million commitment from the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System.

What?????? And some of that is MY MOM’s money.

As teacher-blogger Fred Klonsky pointed out last fall, Penny is a prominent member of Chicago’s Civic Committee, which wants to get rid of teacher pensions. She is also an owner of Hyatt Hotels, which refuses to grant its workers decent salaries or benefits. After Klonsky protested, the Illinois Education Association moved its March conference from the Hyatt O’Hare to the Rosemont Convention Center, but he reports that the IEA’s local delegation to the National Education Association’s annual meeting, to be held here in July, is set to stay at the Hyatt in downtown Chicago.

Penny is also a major contributor to teacher-bashing Stand for Children and the school-closing, teacher-and-staff-firing Renaissance Schools Fund.

Wish I had won the lottery so I could refuse to let them manage my money.

But all you teachers out there, why not demand a thorough review of where your pension funds are being invested, and make sure it’s not enriching your enemies?

Here’s a thought from the Paranoid File – what if Penny is secretly planning to take the teacher pension money, then go bankrupt? Her pal President Obama will no doubt bail her out so that she can keep giving him megamillions in campaign donations, but teachers will be out of luck! She gets what she wants either way.

Oh, and in case you didn’t already hate Penny? The Tribune reports that her private equity firm will focus on buying distressed property (i.e. foreclosures). Perfect. She wants your job AND your home.

Support PURE!
About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.