Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eason-Watkins on her way out... just as I predicted

In September, I wrote about Ron Huberman's "house cleaning" of Arne Ducan's CPS staffers. It was right about the time that Huberman dumped his new-schools chief, Josh Edelman when I wrote:
Word is that he's consolidating budget people from the various departments and is cleaning house of Arne Duncan's people. New schools/charters manager Josh Edelman went last week. Chief Ed Officer Barbara Eason-Watkins, will be next. He will replace most with Mayor Daley's people and his old team from over at CTA. But don't worry about Edelman and Watkins. Both will most likely land on their feet with Duncan in D.C.

This morning, Sun-Times columnist Sheila Foster tells us that indeed, Dr. Eason-Watkins, one of the few remaining black educators (or educators period) in the CPS hierarchy, will be leaving to run another devastated school district in Michigan City, Indiana. Edelman did end up on his feet in D.C.--not with Duncan, but running behind the broom-wielding Michelle Rhee.

At the time, Catalyst called my prediction "highly speculative." Duh! But now they too are saying that Eason-Watkins is toast in Chicago. I demand an apology.

Readers may recall Catalyst's own highly speculative reporting from Dec.'08: "Eason-Watkins to be next Schools Chief."


  1. Dunham in Mich. CityApril 20, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    This is what Eason-Watkins has to look forward to in Michigan City:

    Nearly 50 teachers and certified staff are getting notices. But uncertainty over the ongoing LaPorte County property tax reassessment — one that could mean a loss of $8 million for the school corporation next year — has led to teachers being informed they might be invited back next school year.

    More than a dozen certified positions already had been eliminated through early retirement.

  2. Mr. Klonsky - you should get your facts straight before publishing false information on your blog site if you wish to remain "credible". Dr. Eason-Watkins (1) is not being forced out. She is leaving by choice. Get your facts straight.

  3. Anon,

    It's hard to talk about credibility with someone who attacks anonymously. But, I'll try. What "facts" are you referring to, Anon? Are you speaking for Dr. Watkins? Are you quoting her from something I haven't read? Doesn't everyone at CPS "leave by choice" during a house-cleaning of the previous administration? Didn't Vallas? Didn't Rufus Williams? Gary Chico? Josh Edelman? The question remains, why are so many educators (black and Hispanic in particular) leaving this administration "by choice?" Why would the most qualified administrator, in line to become the Supt. after Duncan, then get buried over on Clark St. and then leave for a position in Michigan City?

    Since you have "the facts," please explain.

  4. Anon,
    Are you really Monique Bond? Or the ghost of Peter Cunningham?

  5. Watkins actually bought a house in Michigan City two years ago, and is now moving out here for good.

  6. Unfortunately, because Dr. Eason-Watkins prefers not to speak to media unless the focus is solely on CPS, if I wasn't anonymous...she would know who the information came from and I prefer her not to know who I am right now.

    But to answer your question, here are the facts: Dr. Eason-Watkins and her husband purchased a home in Michigan City two years ago. She spends more time at that house than she does in Chicago when she's not working. Second, she had an opportunity to go Washington when the President selected Secretary Duncan to head up the Department of Education, but chose to stay in Chicago, after both Daley and Huberman basically begged her to stay, and more importantly, because she loves and has always been committeed to the Chicago School System since she was a kindergarten teacher (before her days as a principal).

    In short, Michigan City makes sense for her because she loves the community and she's excited about the challenge of leading the school system. That's why she is leaving...she's not being forced out, has never been asked to resign, nor has she otherwise felt pressured to leave. This decision was made by choice, not by force.

    Those are the true facts.

  7. Great buys out by the Dunes. Lots of mayor's people have places out there. She must have seen the writing on the wall (in the sand).

  8. I can assure you the purchase of the home in Michigan City two years ago had nothing to do with "her seeing the writing on the wall/sand."

    It was her getaway from the big city life. She and her husband initially considered purchasing a home in Florida, where her son lives, but decided against purchasing a home there after the onslaught of hurricanes that hit the areas they were considering from 2004-2005.

  9. O.K. Anon#1. So let's say that BEW is leaving CPS, simply because she's tired of urban life and always wanted a place near the beach. Let's agree for a moment, it was all about wanting to spend more time with family but the thing in Florida with her son didn't work out, and so on and so forth. Let's say it had nothing to do with her long history as a public-school educator being disrespected by Daley-appointed managers who know little about the goings-on inside of schools. Let's say, BEW feels great about playing second fiddle to this embarrassment of a CEO and just wants more of the sun and shore.

    Since you are a knowing insider, please answer Klonsky's question about the depletion of educator know-how and specifically black educators from the top ranks of central office only to be replaced by Huberman types from over at CTA. Give us the inside dope on that, please.

  10. I wish Dr. Eason-Watkins the best of luck and great success in Michigan City.

  11. I honestly cannot comment on that and I personally agree with the statement that they are putting people in place in Chicago who have no educational background whatsoever.

    I personally urged Dr. Eason-Watkins to leave and go to DC back in January 2009 BECAUSE she should have been selected as Duncan's successor. But she decided at the end of the day, she wanted to stay in Chicago at least for another year so that the school system would not fall apart as the result of both her and Duncan leaving at the same time.

    Honestly, me responding to Klonsky's comments may have been misguided, and I do apologize for that, because my initial read into his comments led me to think that Klonsky was trying to bash Eason-Watkins in sort of a "goodbye and good riddens" fashion, and presumed that "they finally got ride of Eason-Watkins" when that is so not what happened. Clearly, I was wrong.

    My intent was simply to make it clear that Dr. Eason-Watkins left because she wanted to...and not because she was being forced out, asked to resign, being fired, or anything like that. True, she's has shared with me that the two share different philosophies on education...but she was never pressured to leave.

    I think her leaving is an excellent move and should have been done LONG AGO. And as I said, Michigan City makes perfect sense because of her ties to the community, her interest in the challenge, and the newfound love she has for Michigan City and her home in that area.

  12. Readers can speculate endlessly as to why BEW decided to leave, but the fact is that the difference between the decision-making role BEW had pre-Duncan promotion vs. post-Duncan promotion was extreme. Not to say the relationship between RH and BEW was dysfunctional. Not even strained. It just wasn't there, really. In hindsight, the relationship between AD and BEW (and Michael Scott and BEW) was very positive, and that positive, can-do, inspired instruction-focused energy permeated the central office big time. All of that energy vaporized when RH became CEO. Not casting blame for that, but the respect and camaraderie vanished as familiar colleagues exited and hordes of inexperienced newbies arrived. The shift from trust to distrust was immediate and persists to this day--15 months and counting. I hope she gets a warm going away party, unlike so many other loved colleagues who left without any communication at all. And I hope the leadership of CPS can pull it together and get through this crisis. Much love always and forever BEW.

  13. Chicago Public Schools will be left with zero "top-ranking" officials who have classroom experience--Gapers Block .http://bit.ly/bbLIQt

  14. Well said Anon #2. I agree with everything you said about how dysfunctional the relationship betweeen Huberman and BEW became...primarily because Huberman lack of an educational background, his misguided decision-making, lack of maturity, as well his unnecessary thirst for power and control in that office.

    That being said, Huberman knew that he needed her to stay, despite his need for power, thus both he and Daley begging her to stay last January. And to be quite honest, before speaking to the Mayor and Huberman this time around, those close to BEW, with knowledge of the offer from Michigan City, jokingly urged her to sign the contract with MCAS before even speaking to either Huberman or Daley about her decision. Despite the challenged relationship, both Daley and Huberman, as everyone else knows, about her love and passion for the Chicago Public Schools, as evident of her 35 years of service, and undoubtedly would have tried to use that to convince her to stay AGAIN.

    As predicted, both Huberman and Daley attempted to persuade her to stay. She, of course, politely told them that it was too late, her decision was made, and she was happy with the opportunity to lead MCAS.

    On Thursday or Friday, during a budget meeting in a room filled with over 600 principals, BEW was given a seven-minute standing ovation. That alone speaks for itself.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.