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Deborah Quazzo Tapped for Board of Education Post

By Alex Parker | June 22, 2013 11:43am
 Mayor Emanuel named Deborah Quazzo to the vacancy on the Chicago Board of Education on Friday, June 21, 2013.
Mayor Emanuel named Deborah Quazzo to the vacancy on the Chicago Board of Education on Friday, June 21, 2013.
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CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel named the managing partner of a Downtown education advising firm who has served on the boards of organizations with ties to charter schools to fill the Board of Education post vacated by Penny Pritzker.

Deborah Quazzo is founder and managing partner of GSV Advisors, which provides advisory services to companies in the education and business service sectors. She is board chair of Marwen, a nonprofit organization that teaches underpriveleged children about the visual arts. She is a former board member of the Chicago Public Education Fund, America's Promise Alliance, KIPP Chicago, New Schools for Chicago and Teach for America.

KIPP Chicago runs three charter schools in the city, while New Schools for Chicago funds other charter schools.

“Improving education for Chicago’s children requires everyone to share responsibility – from parents to educators to the community,” said Quazzo. “I am honored to have the chance to serve the students of Chicago through the Board of Education and look forward to working with stakeholders across the spectrum to achieve our shared goal of providing every child with a high-quality education.”

But the Chicago Teachers Union, which has vocally opposed the closing of 50 schools and is pushing for an elected school board, took issue with the appointment of Quazzo.

"We are unsurprised at the tone deafness of the mayor who clearly has an agenda when he appoints to the Board of Education yet another charter school proponent and Bruce Rauner campaign contributor. We are surprised he didn't appoint Juan Rangel," CTU President Karen Lewis said. “Once again, this is a missed opportunity to include a compassionate voice that will fight for an equitable, thriving school district for all students.”

Quazzo donated $2,000 to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner this year. She's also backed Republican causes and candidates, donating $7,500 to both Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee, as well as former U.S. Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL).

In 2010, she donated $5,000 to Emanuel's mayoral campaign. She has also contributed to left-leaning causes, including a pro-choice group and former County Commissioner and current CTA head Forrest Claypool.

In 2011, she was part of a group of investors that included Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to fund Dreambox Learning, an online learning tool for students. Another of the investors was the Charter School Growth Fund, an organization that invests in charter schools.