Huberman resigns as 'Chief Executive Officer' of Chicago's public schools, leaving behind a legacy of lies and cronyism

Unlike many of its media events, the Chicago Board of Education's press release that came out mid-afternoon on November 3, 2010, was stunning in its brevity: "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 3, 2010, Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman To Resign Effective November 29th..." was the headline.

The text of the press release reads as follows:

Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman (above) tried to argue against Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, point by point, during the October 27, 2010 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Lewis had criticized the Board for wasting teachers' time and taxpayers money on a plethora of tests, expanded this school year out of the school system's area offices. Huberman posed as a test expert, trying to refute Lewis's critique of the Scantron and DIBELS tests, promising to meet with her to discuss the matter further. A week later, Huberman announced his resignation. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt."Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman officially tendered his resignation to Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago Board of Education President Mary Richardson-Lowry, effective November 29, 2010.

“'Ron Huberman has shown great leadership throughout his 16-year career in city government, and we thank him for his service,' said Mayor Daley.

"Huberman started his career in city government as a Chicago Police Officer and has led four departments including the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, Mayor’s Office, Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Public Schools.

"Huberman, 38, has privately expressed his interest not to serve another administration and said he wants to spend more time with his family before beginning a new career endeavor.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis (above right) tried to bring the waste of time and money on unnecessary testings to the attention of the October 27, 2010 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education and instead was treated to lecturing by Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman, who has no experience in teaching or credentials in education. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.“I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have served this city and Mayor Daley as its leader. I have been privileged to work with so many talented people who have tirelessly made this city a better place to work and call home,” Huberman said."

Huberman had been in power since January 2009, when Daley appointed him as the third "Chief Executive Officer" of the nation's third largest school system. Like his predecessors (Paul Vallas, 1995 - 2001; Arne Duncan, 2001 - 2008), Huberman had not experience in education at any level. He had not been a classroom teacher, a local school administrator, or a higher level administrator before being elevated to one of the most important positions in American education because of the mayoral control model that has governed Chicago's schools since 1995.

Huberman took over the top office in the school system in January 2009, just before the inauguration of President Barack Obama and Obama's elevation of Huberman's predecessor, Arne Duncan, to the post of U.S. Secretary of Education. Obama had announced the appointment of Duncan in a carefully staged December 2008 media event at Chicago's Dodge Elementary School (pretentiously renamed "Dodge Renaissance Academy" as part of Mayor Daley's "Renaissance 2010" plan to privatize a hundred public schools and break the Chicago Teachers Union).

Both the selection of Duncan and the staging of the announcement (which was depicted on Page One of The New York Times) foreshadowed Duncan and Obama's "Race to the Top" program).

Both Duncan and Huberman had been creations of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. In 1995, under the Amendatory Act passed during a Republican administration in Illinois (both houses of the General Assembly and the Governor's office were in the hands of Republicans), Daley was given dictatorial control over the Chicago school system. Among the powers Daley received from Pate Phillip, Lee Daniels and Jim Edgar was the power to appoint a "Chief Executive Officer" to head the school system and to appoint all the members of the Chicago Board of Education (which for the first four years of mayoral control was called, pompously, the "Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees"). Daley's first CEO was his budget director, Paul Vallas. Daley's first school board president was his Chief of Staff, Gery (pronounced GARY) Chico (who is now running for mayor). Vallas and Chico were followed by Arne Duncan and Michael Scott (who allegedly killed himself under mysterious circumstances one year ago near Chicago's Merchandise Mart).

Upon his appointment, Huberman immediately hired a string of cronies to top positions in the school system. In every major case, Huberman's appointees received significant pay raises in comparison with the pay of their predecessors in the same jobs. One of the main distinctions of the Huberman bureaucracy was that Huberman's appointees didn't even pretend to know anything about Chicago's public schools or the work they would be required to do in them.

By April 2009, Huberman had created a new, expensive and highly controversial "Office of Performance Management" under a crony from the Chicago Transit Authority named Sarah Kremsner. Kremsner, who like Huberman had no experience or training in education, was paid more than $150,000 per year and given the title "Chief Performance Officer." Within six months, Kremsner's "PMS" (for Performance Management System") sessions on the 15th floor of CPS headquarters had become notorious among administrators, especially school principals who knew anything about teaching children, as a parody of the "COMSTAT" (for statistical analysis) sessions portrayed in the third season of "The Wire". (That's the season in which a police commander "goes rogue" by legalizing drug sales in an abandoned section of Baltimore, thereby reducing his crime statistics for the Baltimore version of "Performance Management"). Performance Management becomes one of the more toxic legacies of the Huberman administration, but not the only one, although it's probably the most expensive because of its 2010 expansion, at a cost of nearly $60 million, into the school system's 25 "Area Offices" (see below). By a year after the Huberman appointment, Performance Management was a department that was taking up more than $20 million in educational dollars (consisting of both the salaries of the bureaucrats in PMS and the costs of the additional tests Huberman allowed PMS to force on principals and teachers).

By the time Huberman was appointed by Daley, Chicago's media had long ago surrendered its reporting on the public schools to the Board of Education's "Office of Communications." Under Huberman, the Office of Communications was placed under the command of former Chicago Police Department spokesman Monique Bond, whose $130,000 per year salary topped that of her highest paid predecessor (Peter Cunningham) by more than $10,000 (when benefits are included, since Cunningham was a "consultant" for most of his career at CPS, the costs of Bond are even greater). Bond supplied Chicago's dwindling number of education reporters with a steady supply of press releases and carefully scripted media events, which then were recycled uncritically as "news" in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.

For the "Chief Officer Security and Safety", Huberman brought in Michael Shields at a salary of $150,000 per year. Although Shields had police experience, his main qualifications were reportedly political connections to those now in Washington, D.C. Shields's $150,000 per year salary was $35,000 more than that of his predecessor, Andres Durbak, who had had extensive experience in the Chicago Police Department's Youth Division before retiring and taking the CPS job at a final salary (in 2008) of $115,000 per year.

Within a few months after Huberman's appointment, the Chicago Board of Education wasn't even reporting all of the executive level appointments Huberman was making. At the same time, Huberman continually told the press that he was opening up a new era of what he called "transparency." Despite Board of Education policies requiring the Huberman report all of his expensive executive level appointments on the public agendas of the Board of Education, by June 2009 a large number of those appointments were never brought before the public. Not that it would have mattered: During Huberman's term in office the Board of Education, under Michael Scott and Scott's successor, Mary Richardson Lowry, never discussed Huberman's proposals in public, and always voted unanimously for everything Huberman proposed.



November 4, 2010 at 8:38 AM

By: The Retired Principal (RP)

Ron Huberman


November 4, 2010 at 6:33 PM

By: Amen!!!

Is orange your color?

My hope and desire at this stage of the game is that this man will find himself wearing an orange jumpsuit in a prison cell some where in the not too distance future. I also hope he will have company, like the guy who gave him the job!

Several teaching careers are almost nonexistent thanks to the powers that be at the board and CPS, who continuously turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the countless complaints they have heard about power abusive principals! These people continue to blatantly ignore the contract and feel they can treat people anyway they want too! If any of us blatantly ignored rules and laws, we would be in jail! I am so hopeful that education will actually be given back to the educators in this city. Daley could really leave on a high note if he appointed an educator to Ron's position...but chances are it will be one of his yes men who will continue to treat others poorly while excited at his good fortune to continue the corruption and get rich in the process!!

All of these people will have to answer to a higher power eventually and I know they will not be in the same place where the kind-hearted, hard working, conscientious educators in this city will be!

We also know it could possibly get worse!

November 4, 2010 at 11:04 PM

By: Garth Liebhaber

Waiting for Huberman...

I'm reminded of a news report a few months after Huberman was appointed. He was asked for his opinion on the high teacher turnover rate in CPS. His response was that the teachers "lacked commitment."

How ironic. If Huberman has been doing as wonderful of a job as he'd like to think, why would he assume the next mayor wouldn't keep him? On top of that, any new mayor is still months from being "elected". If it wasn't already apparent, his own commitment to the children and teachers of Chicago is even more clearly lacking.

Any notion that Huberman was our 'leader' is an affront to those of us teachers that are committed to the children we directly work with every day.

Of course the real shame is the destruction that he has left in his wake.

November 4, 2010 at 11:39 PM

By: To:Amen!!!!!!


Good point.I wish he will have a company of few well built men.Enjoy!

November 6, 2010 at 5:49 PM

By: Chgotchr

Are PM sessions canceled

With Huberman gone, PM sessions are probably toast as well. Once he has truly vacated his office, there will be an audible sigh of relief from administrators all over the city. Also, hopefully moving vans will be pulling up to the carpet bagger CAOs who were brought in to help destroy our system. Let the "Dashboard" disappear with Huberman's disappearance as well.

November 7, 2010 at 7:34 AM

By: Jay Rehak

Choose a real educator

The educational community needs to push, promote,insist and cajole the current mayor to end his political career by doing the right thing and choosing a true educator to run the Board of Education. The current Board of Education, by its own admission, is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. So much for having business people run the schools. It's the business people/people with no educational experience who have left the Board of Education in shambles. It's time the self-described "Education Mayor" made a decision that was based on educationally sound thinking. Choose an educator to run the Board of Ed. Perhaps equally important, it's time the "Main Stream Press" held this Mayor accountable for the continued dismantling and selling off of Chicago Public Schools. (Little difference between what the Mayor's doing to our schools and what he's done with our parking meters)

November 30, 2010 at 12:42 AM

By: Nixen

True eductors and ineffective educators

I appreciate the public's yearning for educators to lead CPS. However, during my 15 years as a public servant for our district and state, both as an educator and as a researcher with a PhD in education, I have to admit that I have met many duds who claim to be true educators. These folks do come with training in education and some have many years of service as school teachers and administrators. Sadly, the public may not know how ineffective they are because they will never be evaluated and assessed. Likewise, I have also encountered researchers who have no right to conduct research...Both types of duds are just as ineffective as the cronies who recently brought performance management to CPS to evaluate academic programs. However, these duds are commixed ever so intricately into our system that not even a fine filtering system can screen out all the lint from such an antiquated system. These duds look good on resume, they articulate their passion for education reform and rant about non-educators running the school district, but it's quite evident in the quality of their work or the lack thereof. I guess I have a few things to be very thankful for - that there are true educators out there who fortunately have infiltrated our system and that Ron Huberman did some central office cleansing that did strip the antiquated system of some lint. However, the challenge ahead of us is to recruit and retain experienced and well-trained people to provide and inform us of updated research and practices on education programs and methods that are successful, and those really passionate about student achievement, especially the economically disadvantaged, to lead and effectively evaluate our programs. Once more effective educators are put in place, they can see through the phonies and call them out. Without effective educators and leaders in place, the phonies will grow roots while the cronies are not equipped to see through their BS (pun intended). As the saying goes at CPS, which I absolutely abhor, “it is what it is”. Well, if it is a dud, let’s call it that and then get rid of it.

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