Monday, September 21, 2009

Huberman gives his charter school chief the boot


The Chicago grapevine is buzzing about CEO Ron Huberman's latest central office house-cleaning. Friday he dropped the axe on his charter school and new start-up school chief, Josh Edelman. You can hear the whispers down the hallways and in the smoking areas at Central Office--"Why Josh?" "Who's next?"

Edelman came to Chicago 2 years ago to run Arne Duncan's close 'em & start 'em operations. Edelman 's fiefdom down on Clark Street became the center of attention under Daley/Duncan's Renaissance 2010 initiative and Harvard grad Edelman was the fresh face in town, wooed by progressives because of his pedigree (son of civil rights leader, Marian Wright Edelman) and by the business community for his apparent entrepreneurial skills.

All of Ren10's credibility rested on the possibility that Edelman's new start-up charter schools, most of which run by outside management companies, could outperform the "failing" neighborhood schools.

For the most part, they haven't, according to latest research coming out of Stanford, the University of Chicago's Consortium, and the Civic Committee itself (authors of Ren10). That's bad news for the Mayor (he needs good school news for his Olympics campaign), for Duncan (he was hailing Ren10 as the "model" for the nation) and for the business community (can't sell real estate without good charter schools).

Was outsider Edelman over his head to begin with? Probably. Did he run afoul of some of the big players and charter operators among the Mayor's allies? Most certainly. It was unavoidable as charter school handouts became the coin of the patronage realm (like taxi medallions) in the Windy City.

Bottom line (as they're fond of saying down at Clark St.)--Edelman's toast.

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