The campaign for an elected school board in Chicago has been around for a few years, but in the lead-up to the February, 2015 municipal election, when a non-binding referendum on this will be on the ballot, it got a boost. In November of 2014 the Chicago Tribune decided to cover a story which the Chicago Teachers Union had been talking about for some time. The un-elected school board had been for years taking out bad loans with banks. But the Tribune has now subpoenaed, under a court order, the relevant documents. Now it was harder for CPS to ignore the criticism.

CTU Organizer Matthew Luskin stood before a meeting of the school board on November 19, 2014 and told them: "During the same period when the Mayor [Emanuel] and this board of education had been telling us that there was nothing we could do about budgets, that we had to close schools and lay off staff...that while that was happening Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Loop Capital and others took $237,000,000 in profits from CPS through these [toxic swap] deals -- this is according to CPS's numbers -- and they're poised to take over $200,000,000 more." Luskin emphasized: "You have options here...we can file for arbitration, we can file for lawsuit under state law, the Board of Education could take a stand."

CTU Staff Coordinator Jackson Potter continued this line of reasoning after Luskin was bum-rushed away from the mic the millisecond his time expired. "You have financial experts from across the country now raising the alarm. This is very serious. It's your duty and obligation to revisit this question."

But Henry Bienen, member of the Chicago Board of Education, was not interested in legally challenging the banks over bad loans, but was instead interested in spending time meeting with the Chicago Tribune to to try to spin the story about the bad swaps. 

Throughout the growing controversy over CPS's bad loan agreements, and the Board's refusal so far to exercise legal options to get out of those agreements, the campaign for an elected representative school board continued.

At a press conference on December 17 which supported the upcoming advisory referendum for an elected board, several speakers drew lessons from the bad swaps controversy. They noted that CPS was reluctant to get school board money lost to toxic swaps back from their banker friends, but in 2013 the Mayor-appointed Board closed 50 public schools because CPS was 'running out of money'. The consequences of these bad swaps has especially affected minority schools. Irena Jackson pointed out the relevance of the historic Brown vs. Bd. of Education decision 60 years ago to the fight today for equal opportunity and equity of resources in America's schools.

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Unelected CPS Board In Bad Bank Loan Scandal

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