Anticipating the retirement of Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has announced an interim head of the city's school district.
Terry Mazany is currently the president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, a leading philanthropic institution in the city. While there, he oversaw the Trust's first donation to CPS, a five-year, $50 million gift.
He has also served as a public school administrator in Michigan and California.
Mazany will serve a roughly 200-day interim period, and has announced that he does not intend to keep the post once a new mayor is elected in early 2011. In fact, FOX Chicago reports that he will focus on making a "briefing book" for the new mayor and CPS chief offering suggestions on how to address the schools' grave budget crisis and other concerns.
The mayor's selection of Mazany is likely to upset some education activists. Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, and James Meeks, a reverend and mayoral candidate who has long lobbied for better schools, had both expressed hopes that the new CEO would be an educator and not an administrator.
The Sun-Times spoke with another activist who shared the opinion:
Meeks said it was a "mistake'' not to choose someone whose career background is in education.
Julie Woestehoff of Parents United for Responsible Education agreed.
"Our children are not data sets, cogs in a machine or props for political photo ops," she said.
"We need a schools superintendent whose loyalties are to the students -- not to the mayor. ... We need a leader who will put an end to policies like retention and school closings that have been hurting our children. ... We need someone who cares more about making parents, teachers, staff and students feel respected, rather than making the business community feel comfortable."
Mayor Daley, though, has envisioned the post -- created early in his term when City Hall took over the school district -- as an operations-focused position, appointing a CEO for education below the top CEO to handle school policy.
Mazany's replacement, though, won't be appointed by Daley; that person's background will speak volumes about the new mayor's approach to the schools.
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