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Education Tue Nov 16 2010
Mayor Daley announced today the appointment of Chicago Community Trust CEO Terry Mazany to head up the Chicago Public Schools. The Sun-Times piece, in listing Mazany's qualifications, leaves out that he sits on the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Mazany seems like a perfectly capable man, but his education qualifications to run the Chicago Public Schools are not immediately evident. Note: While Mazany has served as a public administrator in school systems in California, it was not in an educator capacity, which is the principle concern of critics. The Chicago Community Trust has created programs for increasing access to arts programs in schools and fund grassroots after-school programs, but has not delved into the structural problems facing the Chicago Public Schools.
In defending his choice of a non-educator to head the public schools, the Mayor reiterated the need to put a business type at the top of the schools, with the bizarre rationale that it has served the district well since he took over the schools in 1995. I'm curious; why do "market solutions" get infinite time to prove themselves? The schools have not appreciably improved--certainly not to a point that has satisfied privatization-focused reformers--in the fifteen years since the Mayor decided a "business model" would improve the schools.
Mazany was also a driving force behind the Renaissance Schools Fund, the private sector partner of the abysmal Renaissance 2010 initiative. Why any of this should endear Mazany to parents, students, and teachers is unclear. Renaissance 2010 is predicated on the idea that some students must fail, and that a school system should focus on giving an extra boost to students already more likely to succeed. This undermines the entire premise of public education. Is that the mindset we want at the top of a public school system?
Disclosure: The Chicago Community Trust funds the Community News Matters grant along with the John S. and James L. Knight foundation. Gapers Block is a grantee.