With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Friday, February 11, 2011

Civil rights advocate Payne appointed CPS chief educator

Interim Chicago schools chief executive Terry Mazany has appointed Charles Payne, a University of Chicago sociology professor and author of “So Much Reform, So Little Change: The Persistence of Failure in Urban Schools.” to the position of Chief Education Officer. Payne is a long-time social-justice advocate who also authored one of the best histories of the Civil Right Movement, I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle.

The post has been vacant since the departure of Barbara Eason-Watkins, in June. There has been a strong community demand, especially in the midst of the mayoral campaign, for the appointment of educators to leading positions within CPS. Both Mazany and Payne are educators as well as local foundation favorites. They are both critical of the testing madness of the previous administration. 

Payne's appointment will put even more pressure on whoever is elected mayor to keep educators in place. 


  1. If the recent polls are right, then Rahm will skate in with no trouble. Given what I have seen of how he operates, I have grave doubts that Rahm will keep these two in place. Also it seems as if he is in agreement with Obama about how education should be run.

    If Rahm does become mayor, do you think he will serve more than one term? I am guessing he is only using this as a stepping stone for bigger things like the senate.

    I like the idea of reformers in education, but I will believe it when I see it. I did like what Mazany had to say about standardized tests, however. Cautiously optimistic.

  2. Rahm has made it clear that he wants a corporate manager type as schools CEO. But as we saw today in Egypt, autocrats want a lot of things that they may not necessarily get.

  3. That's what I thought.

    But if Rahm is essentially an autocrat then I cannot see him keeping this team in place. Too bad Miguel Del Valle wasn't better known or had more money. Based on what I've seen in recent days, I doubt that Rahm cares all that much about Chicagoans. I think/hope his arrogance will eventually be his undoing. In the meantime.... I hope you are right and that he will leave this team in place. First glimmer of hope I have had about city schools ever. I remember thinking they were no great shakes when I was attending Buckingham on the SE side back in the 60s, and, as a parent, even more skeptical. From your standpoint, as an educator, have you ever had a favorable opinion of anyone who has headed up CPS in the last forty years? From my standpoint, things have gone from bad to worse. And I speak as a woman whose mom taught HS French and Spanish on the SE side. Certainly have been some good teachers, but I do think that the administration of the city's schools have left much to be desired.

  4. Yes, it's easy to be skeptical or cynical. I share some of both with you. Cynicism is really about feeling powerless and about politics as merely a spectator sport. Please recall that I didn't say Emanuel would appoint educators. I only said that Payne's appointment will put pressure on whoever is elected to do so. The rest is up to us to follow through.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.