Mayor Names New Members to Revamped Chicago Board
A teacher, two parents, the president of the Chicago Urban League, and several school and community activists were named last week to lead the Chicago Public Schools as the system undergoes the radical restructuring called for in legislation passed last year.
Only one member of the current board of education, William T. Liu, who was named late last year as its first Asian-American member, was retained by the city's new mayor, Richard M. Daley. The mayoral appointments to an interim board were called for in the landmark legislation.
The new board takes office immediately, although the law allows the Chicago City Council to veto any of the appointments within the next 30 days.
Activist Principal Named
Mayor Daley also fulfilled one of his campaign pledges by appointing Lourdes Monteagudo to the newly created post of deputy mayor for education. Ms. Monteagudo has been principal of the Sabin Magnet4School in Chicago since 1983 and was an active player in the grassroots movement that shaped the reform legislation.
Ms. Monteagudo is also one of the few Chicago principals who have openly supported the new legislation, which has been challenged in a lawsuit filed by the Chicago Principals Association.
The cpa is challenging the law's elimination of tenure for principals as well as the dominant role that parents will play in running individual schools and in influencing the election and appointment of other governing bodies.
State and local officials who are named as defendants in the case are scheduled to file their responses this week, and a number of organizations supporting the reforms are also expected to seek to join the case.
The seven-member interim board appointed last week is expected to serve until May 1990, when a permanent 15-member board will be appointed by the mayor from a list of candidates developed by a new nominating commission.
Reform supporters last week8praised the quality of the choices made by Mayor Daley, and said that their common characteristic appeared to be their understanding and support of the changes called for in the reform law.
"I am really pleased," said Donald R. Moore, executive director of Designs for Change and a key figure in the events leading up to the law's passage. "This is an excellent board that should be able to work extremely well together."
First of Many Changes
The naming of the interim board and the dissolution of the former board are only the first of many major changes that the law mandates for the school system over the next several years. Eventually, committees comprising parents, teachers, community members, and a principal will be vested with broad authority to set policy for each of the district's nearly 600 schools.
"I hope the people in middle management [in the school system] are finally convinced that change is really going to happen," said Mr. Moore. "They've got to get on the bus because it is leaving right now."
The outgoing board, which had been the target of much criticism during recent years, cancelled its regular meeting scheduled for last week because of the impending appointments, according to a spokesman for the district.
The board had established 18 task forces to lay the groundwork for implementing the sweeping changes called for in the law. But the new board will have to start from scratch because most of the reports the task forces issued violated either the letter or spirit of the new law, Mr. Moore said.
The new board will face several daunting tasks in the coming months, including negotiations for new labor agreements with the 21 unions that represent the district's employees.
The reform law did not promise any new money for the district, so the new board is also expected to press the Illinois legislature to approve a tax increase that would be earmarked largely for education.
Chief among the tasks that must be accomplished to keep the reform implementation on track is the development of procedures and safeguards for the elections of representatives to the school councils. Balloting is scheduled for October.
The members appointed to the interim board are: James Compton, president and chief executive officer of the Chicago Urban League and president of the Chicago Public Library Board; Adela Coronado-Greeley, a 1st- and 3rd-grade classroom teacher at Inter-American Magnet School and a founder of Parents United to Reform Education; and William T. Liu, a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago and director of the Pacific American Research Center.
Also, Joseph D. Reed, a former executive with American Telephone and Telegraph and president of Leadership for Quality Education, a nonprofit organization sponsored by Chicago's business community; Janis A. Sharpe, a mother of five and director of the St, Mark A.M.E. day-care and after-school program; William S. Singer, a partner with the law firm of Kirkland and Ellis and former Chicago alderman; and Joan Jeter Slay, a parent of a physically handicapped child and coordinator of Designs for Change's training programs for Chicago parents who aspire to school leadership roles.