Daley defends Huberman selection

February 3, 2009 3:23:41 PM PST
Mayor Daley is defending his decision to appoint CTA head Ron Huberman to replace Arne Duncan as Chicago Public Schools CEO.The mayor says Huberman is an effective manager. But some believe his lack of experience in education will not help a school system already plagued with problems.

The 1995 state law that gave Mayor Daley control of the Chicago Public Schools also gave him the power to appoint the district's chief executive officer with out any review by the city council.

The mayor's choice of longtime Daley administration insider Ron Huberman as the next school's chief has sparked outrage, led by clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court Dorothy Brown.

"For this issue, there is too much power in the hands of one person," said Brown.

Circuit Clerk Brown who ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 2007says Daley's choice of Ron Huberman to run the Chicago Public Schools was one of the worst city hall appointments ever. Brown says Huberman, a former deputy police superintendent, director of the Office of Emergency Management and most recently boss at the Chicago Transit Authority, is not qualified to lead the nation's third largest public school system.

"When you put a CEO in place, you should have someone that understands the majority, the substantive part of the job. And that's education in this case," said Brown.

"We went through more superintendents in the 1990's. Remember the big bonuses you paid them to get rid of them all? Send them back to California, Missouri, wherever they came from. It was a big gig. We ended this gig in 1995," said Daley.

The mayor pointed out that Paul Vallas, the first schools' CEO he hired was not a professional educator. Neither was Vallas' successor Arne Duncan who is now the U.S. Secretary of education. Daley claimed that under Vallas and Duncan CPS buildings and instruction improved.

"I would say that the jury is still out as to whether or not Paul Vallas and Arne Duncan actually did a decent job," said Brown.

Brown wants a change in the state law to give the city council the power to approve the mayor's appointment of a CPS CEO and board members.

Daley says he'll stick to what works for him.

"We're not going back to that old system of trying to find out where all the superintendents are. No way," said Daley.

On Tuesday evening, Burke brown and the Reverend Jesse Jackson will convene a community meeting at Rainbow Push headquarters on the South Side. A news release said the meeting participants will "strategegize" on the Huberman appointment.