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Back to School Daze

  Is it possible that the Chicago Public School system could begin classes next week without a Chief Education Officer?

  Its bad enough that since the resignation last April of Dr. Barbara Eason-Watkins, the CPS Education Office has drifted without leadership as major decisions were made to prepare for the 2010/11 academic year.

  What's even worse is that over 400,000 Chicago Public School students could head back to classes the day after Labor Day with no professional educator in administrative charge of what they'll be taught or to take the responsibility for whether they learn anything.

   The Mayor Richard M. Daley approach to running CPS puts himself in charge of the politics and his Chief Executive Officer--these days Ron Huberman--in charge of carrying out hizzoner's plan administratively.   The Chief Education Officer is supposedly in charge of all things having to do with what happens academically in the classrooms of over 600 schools.  That responsibility includes the assignment of principals, teachers and curriculum.

  58 year old Dr. Eason-Watkins, who rose through the ranks at CPS, was appointed to lead the Education Office by CEO Arne Duncan in 2001.  She resigned to become the superintendent of schools in Michigan City Indiana in frustration, sources say, when the Mayor did not elevate her to the system's top job when Duncan was named U.S. Secretary of Education.   

  Huberman--a former deputy police superintendent, Office of Emergency Management Director, mayoral chief of staff and Chicago Transit Authority boss--is Daley's go-to guy and "uber-bureaucrat".  His total lack of experience in education has had a demoralizing affect on education pros at CPS that peaked with Eason-Watkins' resignation. 

  Several principals, who wished to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, tell me the Huberman appointment over Eason-Watkins reveals that CPS these days is more about politics and making the Mayor look good than it is about the education of children.

  The fact that politician Daley and bureaucrat Huberman made so many deficit-driven decisions about teacher layoffs, classroom size, etc. this summer without the input of a chief education officer speaks volumes.   Symbolically, at least, it says that when CPS matters are discussed at city hall, having a professional educator at the table isn't that important.

  So if Daley/Huberman announce an appointment sometime between now and next Tuesday, take it for what it is.

  Oh, by the way, the CPS website at this posting is still listing Barbara Eason-Watkins as the Chief Education Officer.  

  Maybe they didn't notice she quit over four months ago. 




You are on target again, Mr. Thomas!!!

You are one of the few, if any journalists who dare speak the truth!!

Wait until you see how many high school children attend class next week with no teachers staffed at the school to teach them...

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