Choosing Chicago’s next CEO: Andres Alonso, Jo Anderson, Jr.

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Catalyst Chicago is asking readers to submit names of candidates they believe would be a good pick to run the Chicago Public Schools. In the coming weeks, we’ll post short profiles of these candidates, and others who might be in the running. We’re inviting other readers to share their views in our “Comments” section below.

Catalyst Chicago is asking readers to submit names of candidates they believe would be a good pick to run the Chicago Public Schools. In the coming weeks, we’ll post short profiles of these candidates, and others who might be in the running. We’re inviting other readers to share their views in our “Comments” section below.


Jo Anderson, Jr. , senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Background: As a senior adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Education, Anderson  focuses on a variety of issues, including teacher outreach and relations. Before moving to Washington, Anderson was the executive director of the Illinois Education Association-NEA. He has held a variety of positions with IEA-NEA, working on efforts of the union to involve its leaders and members in improving student learning and the public school system in Illinois. In 1987, he helped found the Consortium for Educational Change, a network of 75 school districts throughout Illinois working on school transformation through collaborative partnerships. He was executive director of CEC for 18 years. He has a background in community organizing and was affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation. He was a university instructor in philosophy and political science. His son, Josh, is the executive director of Teach for America’s Chicago region.

Why he’s a good choice: He has ties to the state and knows the unions, which could serve him well in what will be especially difficult contract negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union. Union activist Fred Klonsky wrote on his blog that Anderson’s “history in the Center for Educational Innovation and the Consortium for Educational Change was that of a bottom-up as well as a top-down kind of guy.”

Why Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel might select him-or not: Anderson has both management and classroom experience, though at the college level. He knows the ways of Springfield, and his time with IEA and current work on teacher outreach could forge productive ties with the CTU. His connection to Arne Duncan could be seen as a continuation of a previous administration’s polices.


Andres Alonso, CEO, Baltimore City Schools

Experience: Andres Alonso graduated from Harvard law school in 1999. He began his education career teaching emotionally disturbed teenagers and students with limited English skills in Newark , New Jersey . In 2003, he became an administer in New York public schools and he rose to deputy chancellor for teaching and learning at the New York City Department of Education.  In 2007 he was chosen as chief executive officer of Baltimore City schools. Under his tenure, test scores have risen, and the dropout rate has declined. 

Alonso lead a broad coalition of public and private organizations to improve the graduation rate of African-American teens in particular. Part of the solution was making out-of-school suspension a last resort for misbehavior.


Why he is good choice? In a district that is 40 percent Latino, a Spanish-speaking CEO would be refreshing. In his first year as Baltimore City Schools CEO, he was everywhere, says Michelle Green-Daniels, a parent in Baltimore. A newspaper article says he attended 120 PTA meetings. Green-Daniels also says he made sure that the advisory committee at each school, made up of three parents and two community members, had the power to do the four things they were charged with, including selecting the principal and providing input on the budget.

Alonso also downsized central office staff and implemented per-pupil budgeting—something that CPS has been talking about doing for years. And this fall, he got the Baltimore City Teachers Union to agree to a contract that ties teacher evaluation to student performance.

Why Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel might select him-or not: Alonso is said to move fast to make changes — depending on one’s perspective, that can be good or bad. Alonso also has had a tenuous relationship with both the teachers union and the school board. Like in Chicago, Baltimore has an appointed school board, but there is a movement there to make it partially elected. 


According to the Chicago Tribune, Alonso is friends with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Emanuel might like that Alonso makes bold moves.

 

Previous profiles: Terry Mazany, interim CEO Chicago Public Schools; Robert Runcie, Chief Area Officer; Timothy Knowles, University of Chicago, Urban Education Institute; John White, New York City Schools Deputy Chancellor;

Jose Torres, Elgin School Superintendent