Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ron Huberman "In Over His Head"

We said it on Sunday. Days later, the president of the Chicago Teacher's Union said it, too. We said that Ron Huberman, most recently the CTA president, is not the right pick to replace Arne Duncan as the head of the Chicago Public Schools. Duncan recently became the new US Sec. of Edumuhkashun. On Tuesday, Mayor Daley appointed Huberman to replace him. Daley could have chosen from thousands of better candidates, but probably could not have found a better waterboy. A WLS report today tells us that "Chicago Teacher's Union president Marilyn Stewart said this is not the CTA, this is far more complex and we are not scheduling buses, we are educating children." Stewart, reports WLS, was called by Mayor Daley, who told her about his choice of Huberman. "I was really speechless. I was like, where did you get Ron Huberman from? I didn't understand the rationale for that." We understand it. Duncan is Daley's Golden Boy, popular in the gay community (not that there's anything wrong with that, but it neither disqualifies nor qualifies somebody to run a school system). Huberman is a good fundraiser, and he lends a pretty public face to Daley's haggard administration. Education-oriented blogs are upset about the Huberman pick, too. For example, a post today at says this: "It's not so objectionable to me that Huberman is the third white guy in a row to head a school system that is overwhelmingly black and Latino. It's not that a non-educator can't run a big city school system. It's not even that Duncan's pick — Barbara Eason-Watkins — would necessarily have done a better job. Rather, it's the absence of any kind of national search that might bring in a new energy and thinking for CPS, and — perhaps most of all — Duncan's decision to support a decision he clearly disagrees with. Come on, man. Stand up." (Full post...) Huberman has not managed CTA well. He has not made changes in the CTA where they really count. Although he brags that the trains and buses run well, those of us who use then daily know that you'll lose money every time if you bet one will arrive on schedule. Huberman leaves a CTA with a bloated bureaucracy. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent to spruce up a few selected stations, while stations just down the street are left to rot because the folk there don't have clout. (See the slide show below, which shows CTA infrastructure decay.) It's nice that the Howard Station is being renovated, but does it really need a $250,000 piece of artwork? Security at many stations is lax or virtually absent. For decades, storefronts on CTA property have remained vacant, a wasted source of potential income for the CTA, which annually whines about budget woes. Now, Huberman will take on a larger bureaucracy. Like CTA, CPS has infrastructure problems. Huberman made spotty cosmetic changes at CTA, but nothing substantial. His record gives us no indication that he will address CPS infrastructure differently. Marilyn Stewart is correct when she says that running the schools is more complex than running the CTA. Mayor Daley should have chosen someone who had a track record of running a school system, not running political footballs down the field. RELATED: Lenz: Huberman "Knows Nothing About Education" Let's Get Real About Huberman Reaction to New Schools Chief Mayor Daley is Faking It HUBERMAN'S LEGACY: CTA ROT CNB RSS Feed