Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley last week named Ron Huberman, the president of the city’s transit authority, as the new chief executive officer of the nation’s third-largest school district.
The 37-year-old takes over from Arne Duncan, who left the city to serve as U.S. secretary of education in the Obama administration. (“To Duncan, Incentives a Priority,” this issue.)
Some activists objected to the selection of Mr. Huberman because he has no experience as an educator. He has led the Chicago Transit Authority since 2007. For the two years before that, he served as Mr. Daley’s chief of staff. Earlier, he was the director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. He also spent nine years in the city’s police department.
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, the civil rights leader and a Chicago resident, said Chief Education Officer Barbara J. Eason-Watkins, a veteran teacher, principal, and administrator, would have been a wiser choice to run the 408,000-student district. Mr. Duncan had reportedly recommended that she succeed him. Ms. Eason-Watkins said in a statement that she would remain in her job.
Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart told the Chicago Tribune that she would have preferred that an educator be appointed. But she said in a statement that she was eager to discuss school improvement with Mr. Huberman.
At a Jan. 27 news conference, Mayor Daley defended his choice, saying the district was run by educators when he assumed control in 1995 and had “repeatedly failed” Chicago’s children.
A version of this article appeared in the February 04, 2009 edition of Education Week