I posed the question to some of my grad students. Their consensus was a pretty good one. Since he knows nothing about education, they reasoned, and since he's got a poor reputation as an organizational leader and communicator, it must be that Huberman knows his way around D.C. from his experience at CTA. He knows how to milk the federal cash cow--especially with Chicagoan Duncan running the DOE. In other words, said one student, "he's a glorified lobbyist for Daley." Not bad.
But then why not just hire him as a lobbyist instead of having him run the $ 4 billion operation that is CPS? Even they couldn't figure that one out. Maybe he's at the point where he trusts no one outside his small inner circle of faithful managers.
Or maybe he just has a Dick Cheney (f**k 'em if they don't like it) complex, especially after coming out untouched by the arrest of his former chief of staff John Harris, in the Blogojevich round up, and dared to pick another former chief of staff to run the schools for him.
In doing so, he dissed Arne Ducan who has been forcefully pushing African-American educator, Barbara Eason-Watkins for the job. In the process, he also turned a deaf ear to toward the black community and the teachers union. It's clear that his table has now shrunk to just him and the Civic Committee. There's rumors that he now wants to get rid of school board president Rufus Williams.
The best explanation of his reasoning comes from astute Sun-Times ed writer Fran Spielman:
The Huberman appointment is vintage Daley. The mayor has long believed that "good managers can manage anything" -- even if they don't have a clue about the agencies under their command... Daley has had a progressions of fair-haired boys -- from Forrest Claypool, David Doig and John Harris to Paul Vallas and Bill Abolt -- who have hop-scotched from job-to-job before falling out of favor with the notoriously demanding mayor.Spielman adds:
To placate Eason-Watkins, sources said top mayoral aides at first approached her about becoming City Colleges chancellor. When she refused the consolation prize, Huberman convinced the popular former principal to stay on as his "equal partner" instead of bolting for Washington...
The S-T also reports that Huberman will get a "rude welcome" on his first day on the job today: teachers dressed in black protesting the proposed closure or shakeup of 22 schools.busloads of parents, students and activitists planned to join in. Fliers bearing a picture of the Grim Reaper asked protesters to wear black to "mourn the demise of public education in Chicago.''
"He [Huberman] had better hold on to his hat,'' said Julie Woestehoff of Parents United for Responsible Education.