Whatever happened to Steve Zrike?... Former Chicago administrator still practicing teacher bashing and union busting corporate 'school reform' after his return to Massachusetts...

As most regular readers of Substance know, Chicago Public Schools administrators and members of the Board of Education have, for the past decade, been hiring administrators from outside Chicago, promoting them, and, as the Chicago Union Teacher has been reporting, making sure that they used every trick in the Boss Book to break the union. Among those hired during recent years was Steve Zrike, who became a "Chief of Schools" in a CPS Network, despite the fact that he came to Chicago from elsewhere, never taught in Chicago, and left quickly.

Today, in 2015, Zrike is doing "turnaround" union busting work in Massachusetts, where he has just been made chief of the Holyoke public schools.

Virtually as soon as he was in charge of Holyoke, Zrike began union busting by firing the charismatic, popular, and effective teacher who was leader of the union. As Mark Naison pointed out recently:

"Gus Morales Firing Epitomizes Everything Wrong With "School Reform"

"You are leading a high poverty school district in Massachusetts with a majority Latino population. You have a teacher who grew up in the district. He is male, Latino, brilliant, and charismatic. He always dreamed of teaching in the community he grew up in. But he is also a veteran who is proud and outspoken. When he sees something wrong, he says so. Evern though he is a new teacher, his colleagues, who are mostly white, look to him for leadership, especially when he speaks out against excessive testing and the way tests and data walls are used to humiliate students. They elect him, as an untenured teacher, president of the local teachers unions.

"So what do you do? Do you focus on what this teacher- Gus Morales- brings to his students, to the families in the district, to the entire community. Or do you decide to get rid of him to crush the opposition to the new testing policies and have a teaching staff that accepts the new "reforms" passively?

"You decide to do the latter. You fire him once, and then in the face of national protest, hire him back. And then, after a year, you decide to fire him again.

"This shows something we see happening all over the country. For all the comments that Arne Duncan makes about diversifying the nation's teaching force, there is nothing more threatening to the current generation of school reformers- Duncan included- than people with real roots in the communities they teach in who can connect with the students and parents in those districts. That is why they fire people like Gus Morales and try to bring in Teach for American temps who will be in those classrooms for only a few years and then leave.

"And that is why we- the people who really care about children and schools and teaching- have to fight to get Gus Morales back in the classroom. He represents exactly what we need in our high poverty schools and indeed all our public schools- teachers for life who live in the communities they teach in and love the children they work with."


Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

3 + 1 =