Rauner’s education czar Purvis latest ‘superstar’ to seek new orbit

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Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis, flanked by Gov. Bruce Rauner, discusses the state’s school funding formula during a press conference Tuesday, June 12, 2016 at the Thompson Center. File Photo. | Lou Foglia/Sun-Times

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s hand-picked education czar Beth Purvis will leave her post on Friday, just weeks after the governor signed a historic education funding bill.

Purvis will join a national nonprofit where she will oversee educational philanthropy, the governor’s office said in announcing her departure.

“It has been a privilege for me to work with Governor Rauner and his team,” Purvis said in a statement. “I am proud of what we have accomplished and know that his administration will continue to ensure that Illinois children have access to high quality programs that will prepare them to be engaged community members with meaningful and rewarding careers.”

Purvis previously ran a network of charter schools, and was hired by Rauner on a yearly contract of $250,000. When he tapped her for the job in 2015, the governor lauded Purvis as one of the “superstars” who would help him fix Illinois.

While the education funding bill marked a good end to her 2-1/2 year tenure, Purvis came under fire in July after saying the governor supported 90 percent of the bill — but that he’d still veto the measure because it gave Chicago Public Schools too much. That rhetoric was spewed by Rauner’s critics for weeks, who saw it as a sign that he didn’t know how to compromise.

Emily Bastedo, first lady Diana Rauner’s chief of staff, was recently promoted to senior adviser to the governor and will “assume oversight of the governor’s education policy team,” according to a news release.

Purvis’ exit is the latest among high-profile posts in the governor’s office.

Hardik Bhatt, who led the state’s Department of Innovation and Technology announced his departure on Sept. 7. And Rauner’s general counsel Dennis Murashko left in late August — the same week four of the governor’s communications staffers were fired after a racially insensitive statement was released regarding an Illinois Policy Institute cartoon.

The high-level exits follow a summer of upheaval in the Rauner administration.

Through mid-July, the governor had fired nine members of his senior staff, and another 11 voluntarily resigned, many in protest.

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