If Mayor Richard Daley walks into your office and tells you to remove your car from his parking space, you will do it. If he sends in one of his flunkeys to tell you to move your bloody car, you will do it. The only distinction between the two requests is how much you grovel, bow, and scrape before doing as you are told. Past Chicago Public School (CPS) CEO, Paul Vallas, walked into the Chicago Teacher Union (CTU) president’s office in 1995 and told her to move her union out of his way because the mayor said so. She did. You would too. That was the whole of Chicago School Reform. It didn’t make any difference at all whether the messenger was Vallas, Arne Duncan, new CEO Ron Huberman, or Pee Wee Herman. When Mayor Daley says make a hole, you get out of the way, and you do it with a smile.
Non-educator Vallas did nothing to make schools better for struggling urban youth; non-educator Duncan did less, and the new non-educator Huberman after three months on the job is on paternity leave following his announcing that he and his male partner have a baby. Real educators who previously sat in the CPS superintendent’s office did not have direct backing from City Hall. They were weak administrators that chose not to fight the CTU. They may have tried, but not one of them did anything except appear to be busy.