Chicago Emanuel Privatization Rahm

Chicago: City for Sale

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Rick Perlstein reports that Chicago is the national leader in privatization of public property and services. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has become the master of privatization, building on his predecessor’s legacy.

This is an eye-popping article. It begins like this:

“In June of 2013, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a new appointment to the city’s seven-member school board to replace billionaire heiress Penny Pritzker, who’d decamped to run President Barack Obama’s Department of Commerce. The appointee, Deborah H. Quazzo, is a founder of an investment firm called GSV Advisors, a business whose goal—her cofounder has been paraphrased by Reuters as saying—is to drum up venture capital for “an education revolution in which public schools outsource to private vendors such critical tasks as teaching math, educating disabled students, even writing report cards.”

“GSV Advisors has a sister firm, GSV Capital, that holds ownership stakes in education technology companies like “Knewton,” which sells software that replaces the functions of flesh-and-blood teachers. Since joining the school board, Quazzo has invested her own money in companies that sell curricular materials to public schools in 11 states on a subscription basis.

“In other words, a key decision-maker for Chicago’s public schools makes money when school boards decide to sell off the functions of public schools.

“She’s not alone. For over a decade now, Chicago has been the epicenter of the fashionable trend of “privatization”—the transfer of the ownership or operation of resources that belong to all of us, like schools, roads and government services, to companies that use them to turn a profit. Chicago’s privatization mania began during Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration, which ran from 1989 to 2011. Under his successor, Rahm Emanuel, the trend has continued apace. For Rahm’s investment banker buddies, the trend has been a boon. For citizens? Not so much.”

Knewton, as you may recall, is a leader in data mining, collecting information about children and using it to develop and market products.

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