Monday, February 18, 2013

Transients Welcome


Richard M. Daley established many traditions.

One of them -- keeping any potential, rival power base from coalescing by constantly churning his senior management -- rolls merrily on.
CPS commissioned, then abandoned anti-truancy plan
2010 report to tackle chronic K-8 absenteeism fell by the wayside

By David Jackson and Gary Marx, Chicago Tribune reporters December 24, 2012
Chicago school officials two years ago knew the depth of the city's crisis in K-8 grade truancy and absenteeism, and even developed a detailed plan to tackle the problem in the most affected communities.

But only fragments of that plan were ever attempted, and within a year, it was quietly shelved.

The aborted 2010 initiative, outlined in a series of confidential reports obtained by the Tribune, is emblematic of Chicago's historic lack of will and follow-through on the fundamental issue at the heart of every school system: ensuring that youngsters are at their seats in the classroom. ...

Only now, in response to a recent Tribune investigation, are CPS officials vowing to tackle a problem that cripples student achievement and costs the district millions in funding keyed to attendance.

The architect of the 2010 plan was then-Chief Administrative Officer Robert Runcie, who left Chicago the next year to become superintendent of the Broward County, Fla., school system. It was completed in July 2010, but the city schools' CEO at the time, Ron Huberman, stepped down four months later, not long after former Mayor Richard Daley announced his own retirement.

Terry Mazany, who took over as interim schools CEO, told the Tribune that he was never informed of the 2010 attendance report. "I did not see that at all," Mazany said. Runcie and Huberman declined to comment. 
The extensive and detailed attendance data marshaled by Runcie in 2010 mirror and confirm the Tribune's recent findings on the epidemic of empty desks in Chicago elementary schools. Counting truancy, excused absences and enrollment gaps, the newspaper found, nearly 32,000 K-8 students — or about 1 in 8 — missed a month or more of the 2010-11 school year.

Like the Tribune, Runcie calculated the financial cost to the district of the chronic absenteeism, concluding that Chicago would garner $11.5 million in additional state funds if citywide attendance grew by just 1 percent. That is higher than the $9 million figure reckoned by the Tribune.
"It is not rocket science — it's very person-to-person. You have to have people making lots of phone calls, doing home visits, trying to understand what's going on with the families, and solving as many problems as you can," Ponder said. "It worked pretty well when people did what they were supposed to. When someone was engaged at the school and the youth outreach worker was good, then good things happened. But when any of those links were missing, there was no improvement."

Soon after his project was launched, Runcie was moved to a new post as part of a CPS central administration shake-up, and he left for Florida in 2011.

Former CPS Attendance and Truancy Director Kimberlyn McNutt, who helped Runcie develop the 2010 initiative and struggled in vain to make it work, said that was "the most disheartening experience of my professional career, and the experience still saddens me to this day. Ultimately, when all is said and done, it is our kids who suffer the loss."
The story behind Ron Huberman's sudden, spectacular arc through Chicago city government -- especially an amazing period at the end when he flipped from basking in Da Mare's "This is the job Ron was destined to do" style-rhetoric (from January 2009 CPS press release) -- 
New Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools announced
Mayor challenges new education team to “keep the progress going.”

Mayor Richard M. Daley today named Ron Huberman as Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools. Huberman, who has served as President of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) since May 2007, replaces Arne Duncan who now serves as Secretary of the United States Department of Education.

“Ron shares my commitment to offer our city’s children the best education in the nation. He understands that in a changing world a world-class education system is critical to our city’s long term economic future,” said Mayor Daley during a press conference held at City Hall.
“There are real challenges ahead that will require Ron’s unique skills. It won’t be easy but we need to work together to ensure our vision for Chicago’s schools where every child in every school regardless of their neighborhood or background is given the opportunity to receive a good education,” added Daley.
-- to sprinting towards the nearest available exit -- 
Daley Livid Over Huberman: Sources
By Mary Ann Ahern
Wednesday, Oct 6, 2010

So much for smooth transitions.

Chicago's City Council was buzzing today with word that Chicago School CEO Ron Huberman may just leave before Mayor Richard Daley's term ends next May.

Huberman tried to dismiss the story, telling reporters at dawn "nothing is imminent, I'm committed to make sure the school year goes well."

His intent? Well, that's a different matter. Sources at City Hall say Daley is fuming -- Huberman after all has been one of Daley's favorite go to guys. He's moved from Daley's chief of staff to running the 911 center, to the CTA and now the schools. To say he would jump ship early -- in other words, showing he's not putting the students first -- "is self serving," says our source.

The mayor told reporters, "when he makes his decision, he'll tell me, when he makes his decision, everybody's replaceable."
-- is one of the most interesting, untold tales of the Daley Era.

Maybe one day someone will tell it.

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