Josh Edelman ousted, Jaime Guzman In as chief at 'New Schools', Nothing really changes... Renaissance 2010 continues as 'Turnaround', continued charter school expansion, other scams

Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman has quietly ousted one of the most powerful and controversial executives left over from the administration of Arne Duncan with no public statement and little explanation.

New Schools "Chief Officer" Josh Edelman looked tired as he sat in the large audience at St. Augustine College on the night of August 21, 2009, for the hearings on whether the UNO Octavio Paz charter school should be given use of the De La Cruz building for the 2009-2010 school year. Edelman (second from right, above, wearing blue shirt, eyes closed) arrived late for the meeting. Most of the work of the Office of New Schools during the summer of 2009 was handled by Edelman's top assistant, Jaime Guzman, who was reportedly picked by CEO Ron Huberman to head the controversial office now that Edelment has been ousted. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.On September 18, the last day of the second week of school, CPS sources let leak to the Chicago news media that Joshua Edelman, who had been "Chief Officer, Office of New School", was out and Edelman's top assistant, Jaime Guzman, was in — at least temporarily.

The rule of news management is that if you don't want news to be "news" in the news cycle of TV, you leak it out on a Friday evening (usually before a holiday weekend).

And so it was on Friday, September 18, 2009, when CPS CEO Ron Huberman let leak the fact that he was giving the axe to Josh Edelman, who had been "Chief Officer" of the CPS Office of New Schools for about three years (we're checking for the original Board Report).

Jaime Guzman (above, left) is reportedly going to become interim Chief Officer, Office of New Schools, in the administration of CEO Ron Huberman. Guzman had been handling more and more of the day-to-day public operations of "New Schools" since Huberman took over CPS in January 2009. Above, Guzman stands with UNO chief Juan Rangal at the August 21, 2009, hearing on whether UNO could move its "Octavio Paz Charter School" into the recently vacated De La Cruz Middle School building. After the quickie hearing on August 21, the Chicago Board of Education voted unanimously and without debate at its August 21, 2009 meeting to give the De La Cruz building to UNO at a lease price of $1 per year. The decision was made despite the face that UNO recently received nearly $100 million from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to exapnd its operations and the fact that Huberman is claiming CPS was facing a "deficit" of $475 million for the current school year (2009 - 2010). Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. According to press reports, Edelman will be replaced, at least in the interim, by Jaime Guzman, who had been Edelman's number two man in the huge and controversial department which wielded unprecedented power over the fate of schools during the final years of the administration of former CEO Arne Duncan. Duncan brought Edelman to Chicago from Washington, D.C. and provided him with powerful backing during the annual tumult over school closings and privatizations.

Edelman and school closings

During his nearly three years in office, Edelman, who came to Chicago from Washington, D.C. after being hired by Arne Duncan (now serving as U.S. Secretary of Education) was responsible for the closing of more public schools in Chicago than any executive in the 150-year history of public education in Chicago. Most recently, it was Edelman's office that ordered the 2009 "Hit List" of 22 schools to be closed, phased out, consolidated, or subjected to "turnaround" to be compiled in December and January 2009. The list of 22 produced massive protests across the city, with public opposition to almost all of the proposals and a massive turnout of protesters at the February 25, 2009 Board of Education meeting.

Political clout more than educational knowledge or experience was always the primary consideration when staff for the "Office of New Schools" was concerned under Josh Edelman. One of the most controversial decisions by Edelman's office was to ignore complaints by teachers in the Aspira charter schools that the schools were engaging in a number of corrupt activities, including grade changing, rigging test score data, falsifying attendance records, and strip searching children during disciplinary disputes. When one whistle blower tried to bring the problems from inside Aspira to Edelmen's sttention, Edelman sent the teacher, Meg Sullivan, to his assistant Cathering Sugrue (above left, with glasses in hand). Sugrue did nothing about the problems, but tipped Aspira that teachers were complaining, and the result was that Meg Sullivan was abruptly terminated from her teaching job at Aspira. Sugrue is the sister of powerful Chicago Alderman Patrick O'Conner. She is standing above with Ron Huberman's controversial "Performance Management" chief, Sarah Kremsner, at the Board of Education's June 2009 meeting. Ironically, it was partly because of performance management that Edelman was ousted. The cover up of the Aspira scandals alone has cost CPS several hundreds thousand dollars, a settlement of an undisclosed amount in the lawsuit brought by Meg Sullivan, the whistle blowing teacher. A multi-million dollar lawsuit against Aspira, which CPS may share liability on, is still pending on behalf of the children who were strip searched by Aspira staff. Substance photo and caption by George N. Schmidt. Controversies surrounding the "Office of New Schools" were not limited to school closings, but also had to do with the oversight of Chicago's massive charter school system. One example of the problems facing CPS was the oversight of the controversial Aspira charter schools, which tripled in size under Arne Duncan and Josh Edelman. Edelman was the fifth person in the "New Schools" chieftan job. He followed Jeanne Nowascewski and three others. Jaime Guzman was already being groomed for the top job, handling such intricate assignments as the donation of De La Cruz to UNO charter schools.

The Tribune had an exclusive on the story:

CPS executive in charge of charter schools is out (September 18, 2009 6:25 PM)

Joshua Edelman's immediate predecessor at the head of the CPS Office of New Schools was Beatriz Rendon (above, at the November 2006 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education). Rendon was pushed aside by Arne Duncan when Duncan hired Edelman as a result of Edelman's national work for charter schools. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The Chicago Public Schools executive in charge of charter schools is out as district CEO Ron Huberman continues his sweeping reorganization.

Josh Edelman, hired in 2007, was responsible for about 86 schools, including every city charter school. His removal from the high-profile role came as a surprise to many in and outside the district, given Edelman's relative newness in the job.

A Huberman spokesman would only say that the administration is looking to take leadership of the new schools office in a different direction.

Edelman will be succeeded by his deputy, Jaime Guzman, who will take over as interim director of the office. Reached by phone Friday afternoon, Edelman declined to comment.

Charter schools are an important part of Mayor Richard Daley's attempts to reform the troubled school district. While serving only a small percentage of the city's 400,000 students, the schools have garnered a great deal of attention--both positive and negative--the past several years.

Many of the schools that Edelman managed are part of the controversial Renaissance 2010 initiative, which began in 2004 with the goal of creating 100 new schools by next year. The majority of the 92 schools opened under the program are charters.

There are currently 72 charter schools in the city, some with multiple campuses run by 29 operators. This summer, the charter movement received another big boost, when the limit on charter school operators in Chicago was raised to 45 from 30 by state lawmakers.

Edelman, an outsider to Chicago, was hired by former district chief Arne Duncan, now the U.S. Secretary of Education. He arrived from Washington, D.C., where he served for four years as the principal of The SEED School, the nation's oldest and most successful urban boarding school. He's the son of Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense Fund. Like Duncan, the younger Edelman went to Harvard University. Reported by --Azam Ahmed

Final edited version of this article posted at September 23, 2009, 2:00 a.m. CDT. If you choose to reproduce this article in whole or in part, or any of the graphical material included with it, please give full credit to SubstanceNews as follows: Copyright © 2009 Substance, Inc., Please provide Substance with a copy of any reproductions of this material and we will let you know our terms — or you can take out a subscription to Substance (see red button to the right) and make a donation. We are asking all of our readers to either subscribe to the print edition of Substance (a bargain at $16 per year) or make a donation. Both options are available on the right side of our Home Page. For further information, feel free to call us at our office at 773-725-7502.


September 24, 2010 at 12:59 PM

By: Charter Education Victim

Why is Guzman always seen with UNO gangster.

Why is J. Guzman only photographed when he is with that unscrupulous UNO boss.

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