Quinn Taps Chico To Head State Board Of Ed

CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Pat Quinn has tapped former mayoral candidate Gery Chico to head up the Illinois State Board of Education.

Quinn announced Chico’s new post as board chairman at his Thompson Center office Tuesday morning.

Chico placed a distant second to Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the election this past February.

Before his mayoral run, Chico had been president of the Chicago City Colleges, and had served as president of the Chicago School Board under retired Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Chico was appointed in 1995, when Chicago schools were labeled the worst in the nation and Mayor Daley received state authorization to assume direct control of the Chicago Public Schools system.

Working with schools chief executive officer Paul Vallas, the two built dozens of new schools, renovated hundreds of others, closed a budget deficit and increased test scores.

It was that experience that caught Quinn’s eye, as Chico will be tasked with education in Illinois at a time when school funding faces cuts due to the state’s budget woes.

Chico will succeed Jesse Ruiz, who is leaving the state board for the Chicago Board of Education.

In the mayoral race, Chico was the only candidate other than Emanuel who ran TV ads for his campaign, and he also won the backing of powerful Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and several major labor unions, including the Firefighters’ Union and the Fraternal Order of Police.

But Chico’s hopes to force a runoff against Emanuel were dashed, as he only won about 24 percent of the vote, compared with 55 percent for Emanuel.

  • tom sharp

    Unfortunately, the public knows much more about Chico ‘s past than Quinn or the CBS. Both of whom seem to suffer from selective memory. Almost none of the following quote lifted from this CBS blog is true: “Working with schools chief executive officer Paul Vallas, the two built dozens of new schools, renovated hundreds of others, closed a budget deficit and increased test scores.” The facts are these: 1) Chico et al. fired dozens of principals and thousands of teachers, closed dozens of schools, the test scores did not change (i.e., the changes both up and down were statistically insignificant; and, by the way, the only way they got any score increases was to keep the poor scoring students from taking the tests and continually changing the tests used), increased the number and pay of central office staff which consisted mostly of City Hall patronage workers who had no education background but big clout, increased class size and left a big budget deficit because of all the “new schools” they built (a la “Ren 2010,” for example).

    The proof of all this lies in the simple fact that Chico, Duncan and Huberman left the same mess that exists today for the new guy. No one looking at CPIf they did so well, why are things as bad or worse than they were when Chico took over? The same CBS that writes on this site in horror about the low gains in test scores, and the large number truants and dropouts, can’t get away with praising the people in charge! Quinn should look at the facts, not the politics.

  • Grannyes

    Why would a lawyer get appointed as a top person over education. Why such dislike of seasoned educators. What can Chico do to improve education in this state? What a pity, poor students. Clout wins, not qualifications. Shame on Quinn!

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