First a federal judge in Chicago ruled that Ron Huberman's mass teacher firings were illegal. Then came the headlines showing him turning off the heat on a group of parents who've been spending cold nights in an elementary school field house, asking that the condemned building be turned into a school library.
Now comes the announcement that the Chicago schools CEO is running full speed towards the exit door. He's even nudging his boss Mayor Daley out of the way so he can be first out of Dodge.
All this threatens to occur over a critical set of months when CPS traditionally devises its budget, prepares for state tests and decides which schools to close. It must tackle these tasks with an administrative staff decimated by budget cuts, teachers left disgruntled by cost-saving layoffs, and the specter of even worse budget woes next school year. (Sun-Times)
That leaves CPS virtually leaderless--without a CEO (that's what we call the superintendent here in Chitown) and no chief education officer, since Huberman has still not replaced the system's top educator, Barbara Eason-Watkins. She departed for Michigan City in June, leaving 125 Clark Street practically devoid of educators.
Why the big rush to leave? Mayoral elections are coming up, Rahm Emanuel is back in town, and Huberman needs to hook his cart to another pony. There's also plenty of money to be made in the private consulting business for an ex-Chicago schools chief exec who's wise to the federal funding pipeline--and Huberman is. One question is, which manager from which city department can they bring over to take this politically risky lame-duck job until after February's elections? And how many other Huberman/Daley-appointed bureaucrats, transplanted from Huberman's former Chicago Transit Authority bailiwick and the city payrolls, are headed out the door before the elections?
I guess they should have thought of these problems before they made CPS a wing of City Hall.
More bad news for Huberman
As I'm posting this, I'm hearing even more, about what must be disheartening news for Huberman and good news for the Pilsen neighborhood parents occupying the Whittier school field house.
State Rep. Cynthia Soto, who heads up the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force looking into Huberman's neighborhood school closings, has told him to turn the heat back on inside the Whittier field house. Parents had informed the task force that Peoples Gas, with no warning, turned off the heat, even as nighttime temperatures dipped down into the 40s. Pregnant women and children slept there overnight by using electric heaters and community activists have threatened to spend the winter if necessary.
"We will have input on Whittier. I have to say that,'' Soto promised. "I support the parents.''
Hopefully this will save me a trip over to Whittier to donate my electric heater and extra blankets. Now probably a bucket of coffee from Dunkin's will do.