Chicago’s next schools CEO only one piece of the education puzzle

Print More
brizard

For the past few weeks, Catalyst Chicago has profiled candidates whom readers said they would like to see as the next schools CEO. It’s still a mystery who will get the nod, as Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s press office is tight-lipped on the matter
and, with a month to go until Inauguration Day, there’s plenty of time for someone who is not on the radar of Chicago’s education world to emerge from the blue as Emanuel’s pick.

For the past few weeks, Catalyst Chicago has profiled candidates whom readers said they would like to see as the next schools CEO. It’s still a mystery who will get the nod, as Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s press office is tight-lipped on the matter and, with a month to go until Inauguration Day, there’s plenty of time for someone who is not on the radar of Chicago’s education world to emerge from the blue as Emanuel’s pick.

“Rahm’s his own man,” says one observer. “I would not be surprised if someone not on the short list is identified and recruited heavily in the near term.”

One educator who was not nominated in the survey, but whose name has surfaced as a possible contender (along with Andres Alonso and John White) is Jean-Claude Brizard (right), superintendent of Rochester Public Schools. He held several top positions in New York City schools and has pushed an ambitious reform agenda of closing schools, reassigning or firing principals and instituting merit pay for teachers, with whom he has a rocky relationship.

But the next CEO is only one piece of the puzzle. For one, he or she will undoubtedly want to bring in a new crop of top deputies and staff, a move that will shake up central office and dramatically change what happens on the ground in schools. Plus, Emanuel will also be selecting new School Board members. A shakeup of the management structure, which includes area administrators who oversee groups of schools, could be in the works. And while Interim CEO Terry Mazany is working on an education plan for his successor, there’s nothing to prevent Emanuel and his hand-picked CEO from setting a new, different agenda and goals for the district.

* * *

Catalyst Chicago received 135 responses to our CEO survey; Mazany was the top vote-getter.

Here are other nominees who were not previously profiled:

     

  • Hosanna Mahaley, recently chosen to head Washington, D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education. Mahaley is also vice-chair of the board of directors for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and worked for Arne Duncan when he was Chicago’s CEO.
  • Creg Williams, superintendent of Thornton Fractional High School District 215 in Calumet City and former superintendent of St. Louis public schools. Williams is a Chicago native, was a teacher and principal in CPS and an administrator in Philadelphia public schools.
  • Jerry Stermer, advisor and former chief of staff to Gov. Pat Quinn and former longtime head of Voices for Illinois Children.
  • Tim King, founder of Urban Prep Charter Schools and former head of Hales Franciscan High School.
  • Karen Lewis, president, Chicago Teachers Union.
  • William Ayers, retired professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
  • John Frantz, retired chief labor relations officer for CPS and former central office administrator, principal and teacher.
  • Ascencion Juarez, retired chief human resources officer for CPS and former principal.
  • Steven Flisk, former chief area officer, Area 9.
  • Genita Robinson, former candidate for 2nd Ward alderman and CPS lawyer.
  • Deborah Esparza, chief area officer for Area 2, former principal of Stockton Elementary.
  • Amy Mims, chief area officer for Area 1.
  • Mike Klonsky, adjunct professor at DePaul University and director of the Small Schools Workshop.
  • Alyese Faibisoff, teacher.
  • Vershawn Young, former fellow with LAUNCH, a now- defunct CPS principal training program, and currently professor of English at the University of Kentucky- Lexington.
  • Michael Lach, former CPS administrator and teacher.
  • Rodney Estvan, an education policy analyst for Access Living of Chicago, a nonprofit that works on behalf of people with disabilities.
  • Abigayil Joseph, academic enhancement officer, CPS.
  • Joyce Kenner, principal, Whitney Young High School.
  • Pamela Randall, high school area instructional officer, Area 24.
  • Gail Ward, retired chief of the Office of Principal Preparation and Development, former principal.
  • Jonathan Jackson, civic leader and son of Rev. Jesse Jackson of Rainbow PUSH.
  •