Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for Chicago Public Schools, CEO Ron Huberman made a stunning announcement that has sent shock waves through the city. Speaking with Mayor Daley, Huberman tendered his resignation, informing the city’s boss he will vacate the position before the mayor’s departure in May.
The CEO leaving amidst budget finalization, state testing, in the middle of the scholastic year throws everything into a tailspin of uncertainties. I reckon it to a teacher who has been in the classroom, gotten to know all his or her students, then takes off after Christmas break.
The difficulties involved with decisions like this is the instability the school system will have under a “stand-in,” or “substitute” until a new CEO can be found. And, searching for a qualified applicant to head the nation’s third largest school system will take time. A permanent CEO cannot be hired until Chicago votes in a new mayor.
Appointed in January, 2009, Huberman, who was born in Israel and grew up in Chicago’s west suburbs. He replaced Arne Duncan who went to work for President Barack Obama as his Secretary of Education in Washington. Huberman has a few “irons in the fire” considering opportunities in the private sector, setting his sights on a first of the year departure, although he has not officially revealed the exact date he’ll be saying good-bye.
Another important post has been vacant in CPS, the number two spot under the CEO, the chief education officer. Barbara Eason-Watkins was the last person to fill the position until June, 2010, when she stepped down and relocated to Michigan City, Indiana. Huberman continues seeking a replacement but as of yet, to no avail. Daley had a founder and former principal of a Catholic school in mind, however Huberman nixed the mayor’s choice, opting instead to seek a minority for the post.
Education is a big deal here in Chitown and the mayor, as well as his wife Maggie have worked tirelessly to build the youth of the city, providing programs and opportunity for growth, as well as development. Huberman had the odds stacked against him with a budget deficit, having to close schools, layoff teachers and staff, plus other challenges that continue without solutions.
Who ever fills the departing CEO’s shoes will earn every dollar with the work they will face from day one. Huberman collects $230,000 presently. Hopefully, the new candidate will be able to have a meeting of the minds with Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who works hard for the educators she represents. Articulate, dedicated, and passionate about children learning, the lady president does not quite see eye-to-eye with Huberman’s methods. Lewis, along with other educators are dissatisfied with cuts that have effected classroom learning, in addition to educators lack of input when decision-making time rolls around.
The new CEO will not only have a school system to straighten out, but will also have to find a way to mend fences with educators in order to move forward and make the best choices for the sake of the children we educate. Some feel Huberman should stay until the end of the school year. No doubt problems can intensify with the impending situation. It can’t be good for the kids, who need stability and are already at several disadvantages. Just one more challenge the city will have to face.