Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Huberman the wrong guy to run Chicago schools

Greg Hinz doesn't think that Huberman is the right fit at CPS:
In shifting Mr. Huberman, Mayor Daley candidly admitted he believes that educating kids is more important than getting people to jobs.

"The most imporant aspect of life is a quality education," he replied when I asked him if having both good schools and good transit wasn't important. "Education is the answer to all the ills."

Actually, sir, it's not.  And even if it were so, is Mr. Huberman the man to continue reform of Chicago public schools?

Yes, he's a talented administrator and will bring an outsider's perspective to the job.  But while his previous posts running the CTA and city's emergency-management operation leveraged Mr. Huberman's tech bent -- he's the guy who, more than anyone else, is responsible for all those police cameras on polls at key street intersections -- education is different.  It's a people business.

   Yes, it's true that Mr. Daley's prior two school chiefs, Paul Vallas and Arne Duncan, had little if any background as an educator. Mr. Huberman has none.  (Mr. Duncan now is U.S. education secretary.) But that was then.  Ultimately, for a school system to work it has to be run by someone who knows something about how to teach and not just how to manage.
Then there's a counter point. The Tribune says that Huberman is a good choice for the Public Schools.
He acknowledges that he doesn't have a background in public education. But he does have an MBA and another advanced degree from the University of Chicago. He brings a track record of effective management. He generates ideas.

He brings almost as much working knowledge of public education as Vallas and Duncan did when they walked in the door.

They were fast learners. He is too. All the better—they are fresh thinkers.

It's also a good sign that Barbara Eason-Watkins, the chief education officer at CPS, plans to stay even though she was not given the top job. She does have a deep background in education, and she has earned a great deal of respect in Chicago. She is needed at CPS.

And so, the third revolution in Chicago public education begins. Ron Huberman is a great choice to lead it.
I still think his tenure at CTA ended too soon though.

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