CTA czar moves to CPS

Daley names Huberman to replace Duncan
January 27, 2009 (CHICAGO) The man who's been in charge of the Chicago Transit Authority will now run the nation's third largest school system.

Mayor Daley made the appointment on Tuesday. But, critics are speaking out about the mayor's hand-picked choice.

He's Daley's third public schools chief since he took over the city school system in 1995. None of his picks has had a background in education including Ron Huberman. He has two master's degrees but not in education. The mayor says management experience is needed to run the giant school system, but some are worried about Huberman's lack of education experience.

"I have some big shoes to fill. Arne Duncan helped turn around what was once the worse school system in the nation," said Ron Huberman, Chicago School CEO nominee.

And Mayor Daley is confident about his choice.

"I have the utmost faith in him," said Daley.

Huberman's predecessor, now U.S. Education secretary Arne Duncan, lobbied for Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason Watkins for the position.

But on Tuesday he called the Huberman appointment a brilliant pick.

"He's smart he is committed he is tough this is too important we have made alot of progress but the work is not done," said Duncan.

Eason Watkins didn't comment on Huberman's appointment. But on Tuesday night she released a statement saying, "I am going to continue in my role as chief education officer and I will keep working hard everyday to make our schools better."

Huberman is a former Chicago beat cop and has held several jobs in the Daley administration including chief of staff, head of the Office of Emergency Management and for the past two years president of the CTA.

Chicago Teachers Union president Marilyn Stewart says she is willing to work with Huberman despite his lack of educational experience.

"This is not the CTA. This is far more complex. We are not scheduling buses here. We are educating children," said Stewart.

Reverend Jesse Jackson blasted the mayor's decision.

"The mayor made a blunder. There should have been an exhaustive and public search for the best America has to offer," said Jackson.

Some parents agree.

"He dealt with the bus company. We need someone that deals with education," said parent Nelda Crittle.

"Anything is worth a try. Education's been messed up to this point," said parent Yolanda Cain.

On Wednesday, community activists, educators and students are planning to hold a news conference to express opposition to the appointment.

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