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Teachers union blasts Emanuel’s school board choice

Investment banker Deborah Quazzo

Investment banker Deborah Quazzo

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Updated: July 23, 2013 6:15AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has named an investment banker with ties to charter school organizations to serve on the Chicago Board of Education.

Deborah Quazzo, a founder and managing partner of GSV Advisors, will fill the position left vacant by Penny Pritzker, whom President Obama has nominated to become U.S. commerce secretary.

Quazzo, 52, has served on the boards of New Schools for Chicago, an organization that raises money for charter schools, and KIPP Chicago, a charter school operator. She has also donated money to Republican Bruce Rauner’s gubernatorial campaign. Rauner is an advocate of charter schools.

Evidence of Quazzo’s support for charter schools, which are primarily funded by taxpayers but independently run, provoked a strong reaction from Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

“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,” Lewis said in a statement. “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 is a mother of three and worked for J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch & Co. before founding her own investment banking firms.

Quazzo’s firm, GSV Advisors, raises money and invests in companies that apply high-tech concepts to education.One of those companies, DreamBox Learning, works with schools to provide online math lessons that adapt to individual students’ abilities.

State Board of Elections records shows Quazzo has donated to both Republicans and Democrats, giving $5,000 to Emanuel in 2010 and $3,500 in 2013 to Bruce Rauner’s campaign for governor. In a release announcing Quazzo’s appointment, Mayor Emanuel said: “Deborah has been a strong advocate for students throughout her career and personal life, from supporting innovative ideas for improving education to providing one-on-one mentorship to students.”

The mayor added: “Deborah brings a valuable perspective that will help make sure we can provide all of our students with a path to a bright future.”

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