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Who is the new $154,000 'Chief Officer External Affairs and Partnerships' at CPS?... Huberman touts early 'opening of schools' while showcasing political cronyism at July 19 media event

Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman for the second year in a row staged a media event in July to feature the "opening" of schools in August — for the so-called "year-round" schools. For the second year in a row, the media event featured Ron Huberman and the CPS staff distributing backpacks to poor children (although this year the distribution didn't involve a door-to-door walk around a poor Chicago neighborhood with a dozen TV crews in tow). For the second year in a row, the event featured aldermen (this year, two instead of one).

Barbara Lumpkin (above at microphone) served as MC for the Board of Education's July 19, 2010, back to school event at Cesar Chavez elementary school. While Ron Huberman was claiming a massive budget "deficit" since January 19, 2010, and firing teachers and citywide staff under the guise of "cutting bureaucracy," Lumpkin was hire at $154,000 per year for the job of "Chief Officer, External Affairs and Partnerships." There was no discussion by members of the Chicago Board of Education about the Lumpkin hiring, since Lumpkin came to CPS from City Hall or orders from Mayor Daley. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.And for the first time, the event was coordinated and MC'd by a new face at CPS (although someone who would be familiar to anyone who had been covering City Hall news over the past several years), a person named Barbara Lumpkin, who is listed on the most recent CPS roster of employees at "Officer, External Affairs and Partnerships" at an annual salary of $154,000.

The main event, missed by the few news people who were there at Cesar Chavez elementary school because corporate Chicago only covers sound bites, was that Ron Huberman was also featuring another example of City Hall patronage. Master of Ceremonies for the event was Barbara Lumpkin, who was hired less that a year ago by Huberman after Mayor Richard M. Daley pruned her from the City Hall budget.

Lumpkin, like dozens of other patronage workers at the top of CPS, was not cut from the budget while Huberman was (a) proclaiming a "deficit" he was never asked to prove, (b) cutting hundreds of veteran teachers, and (c) cutting citywide services performed by hundreds of citywide people, both teachers and in other professional jobs. Like Huberman and the majority of the top people in Huberman's administration, Lumpkin has not experience or credentials in education. She is part of the City Hall part of the Huberman team (the other part, larger, consists of people from the Chicago Transit Authority. A third part consists on imported executives from outside of Chicago, many apparently approved by the Broad Foundation as proved "educational leaders."

So during a summer when CPS has laid of hundreds of veteran teachers (and other school workers, including principals; the official tally of people from the "turnaround" schools who lost their jobs on June 18 includes five principals) and telling the public that it has trimmed "Central Office" to the bone, clout still matters more than professionalism as Chicago's public school system enters the 16 year of mayoral control. What is perhaps different this year is that the financial problems are greater, in a large part because of all the money wasted by privatization schemes and the other costly results of the failed mayoral control experiment.

Some of the information about Lumpkin is available on the CPS website, although it is difficult to find. On May 26, 2010, during the time between the Chicago Teachers Union election of May 21, 2010, and the runoff election of June 11, 2010, Ron Huberman announced that he was making the now-famous CPS "Position File" public on the Board's website for the first time. The "Position File" has historically been the record of all those working for CPS, but only available to those who requested it — and had the patience to endure the CPS stall — under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

On July 19, 2010, Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman (above right, at microphone) spoke about back-to-school during what he calls difficult times. While the times are indeed difficult for the hundreds of teachers and other school workers who have lost their jobs on orders from Huberman, all of Huberman's hirelings from City Hall and the Chicago Transit Authority remain in jobs paying between $90,000 and $200,000 per year (like Barbara Lumpkin, the Board of Education's $154,000 per year Chief Officer for External Affairs and Partnerships, above center. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Huberman's Position File is incomplete (it doesn't include key data that is actually available in the real Position File, such as date of hire) and impossible to research (it's only available in PDF format, while the original is in a spreadsheet).

But for someone who has the patience to scroll along, the Position File now publicly available shows that as of May 1, 2010, CPS still had hundreds of central office employees budgeted for salaries in excess of $100,000 per year. And this becomes more relevant because on June 18, CPS told hundreds of teachers that they had been either "displaced" (and put into the Reserve pool of Displaced Teachers) or fired outright.

Since a $154,000 political patronage hireling comes at a cost to the CPS budget equal to the cost of two teachers, the prominent place afforded to Lumpkin on July 19 should have drawn more notice.

When does school begin? It depends. Most schools will start for children on September 7, 2010. However, the so-called "year round" schools begin August 9. For the second year in a row, CPS hosted a July media event about the start of school. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.While there have been draconian cuts to teachers and others serving the children of Chicago every day, the large number of patronage people working at the CPS central offices at 125 S. Clark St. and elsewhere throughout the system is still in place.

But Lumpkin isn't the only City Hall or CTA crony still on the CPS salary as hundreds of teachers look for work this summer. The others will be a feature shortly. Stay tuned.



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