In his first public address since leaving Chicago Public Schools, former schools chief Ron Huberman said he’s excited about the new leadership coming in.
“I can certainly think of no one better and more talented to lead the system and guide it through very difficult reform than Jean-Claude (Brizard),” said Huberman, speaking at a luncheon Friday for LINK Unlimited, a mentoring organization for African-American students. “There will be lots of difficult, unpopular decisions to be made. In essence, there will have to be an adult in the room to fundamentally change the way the Chicago Public Schools system operates, and it will be a politically tough battle.”
He talked about the need for a teacher evaluation system, a better way to recruit good teachers and let go of bad ones, and he spoke in support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s efforts in Springfield to lengthen the school day.
Under Huberman, some educators complained about the extensive testing used in his data-driven performance management system. Interim schools CEO Terry Mazany has also criticized Huberman’s reign as being chaotic and fractious.
On Friday, Huberman called for further continuation of the system he implemented, saying those who argue that the district is “testing kids to death” are wrong.
“That is a myth promulgated by unions and others who do not want accountability in our education system,” Huberman said.
He spoke out in support of his “Culture of Calm” initiative to pair at-risk kids with adult mentors to keep them safe and engaged at school. The program could face budget cuts with the loss of federal stimulus dollars. Huberman, a former Chicago police officer, still keeps track of students killed by violence and said schools need to address safety and student’s social emotional needs.
He also called for new leadership to close down under-performing charter schools. But more than anything, he challenged the new administration to push hard in reforming a system that he called “broken.”
“We have a mayor that I think is going to hit it out of the park in taking on the battles to improve the system,” he said. “I would encourage this administration to make every tough decision they need to do, to go as deep and as far as they can on reform to make the school system work.”