Teachers, community groups want role in choosing a new schools chief

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A community panel should conduct a nationwide search for the next schools leader following the election of a new mayor this February, Chicago educators and community leaders said at a City Hall press conference today.
The goal is not to find an immediate replacement for current CEO Ron Huberman, who’s slated to leave at the end of November, said Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis. Instead, community members should start a dialogue now, she said, so they will be ready to suggest a qualified candidate to a new mayor once he or she is elected next year.

A community panel should conduct a nationwide search for the next schools leader following the election of a new mayor this February, Chicago educators and community leaders said at a City Hall press conference today.

The goal is not to find an immediate replacement for current CEO Ron Huberman, who’s slated to leave at the end of November, said Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis. Instead, community members should start a dialogue now, she said, so they will be ready to suggest a qualified candidate to a new mayor once he or she is elected next year.

The panel should include students,
parents, teachers, community members and elected and appointed education
officials
. Among the other groups joining with the union, which has pledged to work in concert with grassroots organizations, were Parents United for Responsible Education, the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization and Action Now.

Acknowledging that Daley will be appointing an interim CEO, Lewis added, “We will have a new mayor, and we’ll still be here, and what we’re hoping is that we can start with this dialogue and start making good decisions in the right direction.” 

Waiting till the next mayor is elected is too long, Lewis said.

Opening up the selection process is a step toward ensuring that communities, not business leaders, take priority in running public education, said Jitu Brown of KOCO.  Brown voiced the mantra heard repeatedly from grassroots groups and educators: The next schools leader should be an educator, not a CEO.

“We want a strong focus on school instruction, culture, curriculum and staffing,” Brown said.  “We want wraparound supports for all of our students, and we want real collaboration to ensure ownership and accountability. A CEO cannot give that to us because a CEO is not accountable to the constituents, to the people. A CEO is accountable to the business [community].”