Replacing Barbara Eason-Watkins

July 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm 6 comments

Barbara has been the Chief Education Officer of CPS since 2001.  Apparently she has taken a job as the superintendent for Michigan City Area Schools (Indiana.) Yeah, way to go Barbara!  She was sort of the CEO of education while Arne/Ron have been the more on the business end of things, I guess.  Arne had more of an education background than Ron did though.  I have no idea whether she did well in her job or not.  It’s hard to determine when you’re facing a system like CPS.  I suppose any small improvements are really major accomplishments.  HAS CPS seen small improvements since 2001?  I’m not even sure how to assess that.

In any case, the search is on for her replacement.

A reader sent this link in that talk about Mayor Daley’s top contender being a white woman from with a private school background.  Which begs several questions (not necessarily my own questions, but questions nonetheless.)

-When CPS is only 9% white or so, should a white woman get one of the top spots?
-Isn’t there SOMEONE in CPS right now who is visionary enough but also knows the system well enough to make a difference?
-Shouldn’t some people from outside the city be considered?  i.e. Total outsiders who can shake things up a bit more and aren’t tied to any local political drama.
-Can someone with private school experience relate that to a system like CPS where there is a ton of low income families, huge bureaucracy, funding problems galore, etc, etc.  It seems a bit like fantasy to imagine that one could take their kick-ass private school skills and make them work in CPS.  I wish it seemed likely, but just am not sure.
-Can someone totally amazing / visionary really make an impact on our struggling District 299?  That is one tough job.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/2484150,CST-NWS-daley10.article

On another note, having gained experience in CPS, I hope B.E.W. blows them away in Michigan City.  Go Barbara!

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cps mom 5  |  July 15, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    I wish BEW all the best in her new and long overdue role as superintendent. BEW is a highly-respected educator, and it is unfortunate that she wasn’t given the opportunity to lead CPS. She had to play second fiddle to Daley’s appointees that tried to run CPS like a Fortune 500 business. A person can only take so much. i am not opposed to a white, black or purple man or woman leading CPS, but it would be nice to have someone that has worked in the trenches and has an educational background. Perhaps the folks that are in CPS now are too entrenched to be visionaries, but I don’t think we need more political appointees to this role.

  • 2. LR  |  July 15, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    I see the advantage of hiring an insider. However, there have been several discussions on this blog about Catholic (or other private) schools that provide superior educations and spend less per student. Maybe they are thinking someone with that type of background will know how to cut some of the waste??? I really don’t know…just a guess. As far as being white or black – I think that matters less than experience or background in urban education.

  • 3. Hawthorne mom  |  July 15, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Maybe I shouldn’t comment on this, because I have said this before but I am going to anyway.
    First, private schools, parochial or otherwise, typically serve a much different population than CPS. Plus, private schools pay so much lower than CPS and that is how they are able to spend less. A replacement for BEW isn’t going to be able to cut salaries, and isn’t going to change the student population. So, I don’t see how someone from a private school background would actually help. To be honest, I am really tired of the assumption that we just need someone to come in and kick the rears of everyone in the system. Yes, there are things that need to change, but a “revolutionary” can’t do what really needs to be done and that is to change what goes on at home for kids! (although Michelle Rhee in DC intrigues me and I do like how she is working to get rid of the small percentage of teachers who are bad….if only she could force parents to do THEIR jobs too!)

    I taught in the system and other school systems like it. What BEW ever did or said I have no idea. It never affected me. I can tell you that parents who care and who are involved and who read to their kids, make sure they come to school regularly and help with homework….those parents affected me. The children with parents like those succeeded. Unfortunately that is such a tiny percentage of CPS.

  • 4. donna  |  July 18, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Well said Hawthorne Mom. Someone NEEDS to get out there and say that the parents are responsible. They may change the players, but until they change the root of the problem, no one will be able to make positive changes in the system.

  • 5. cpsobsessed  |  July 19, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I think within the educational world (I *think*) it is pretty much acknowledged that the parents are hugely the issue (not necessarily through fault of their own, but due to life circumstances.) The trouble is… how on earth to “fix” that. It’s a huge social issue, not just and education issue.
    Sometimes when I get motivated to read about success stories in CPS, one common factor seems to be principals who set out to deal with the community (kids and parents and any one else who’ll support the school) and not just the kids. Apparently there are issues of trust in some neighborhoods and the principal has to really prove first that families can trust the school and the staff and the principal. That takes time…unfortunately.
    I don’t know… it’s not an easy answer.

  • 6. RL Julia  |  July 20, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Finally – an issue that trumps economics. Even though I should have known better, I was appalled when my kids when to (private) pre-school at some of the kids who I met who whose emotional and sometimes physical needs were not very well taken care of. These (thankfully few) kids were from homes where there was plenty of resources but who were frequently brought to school dirty, inproperly dressed for the weather, without lunch (or with a junk food lunch).

    Provided, no one wants to be told they are an inadequate parent but it seems like it would be almost easier as a teacher or administrator to deal with an under-resourced (adequate or inadequate) parent than a richer one – if only because there is at least the excuse of the lack of resources to fall back on – you don’t have come off as judging.

    What do you think?

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