Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New Chicago Schools CEO. Here's Some Homework.

Mayor Richyard Daley has appointed Ron Huberman, age 37, to replace Arne Duncan as CEO of Chicago Public Schools, saying, the system needs a good manager, and "I have the utmost faith in him (Huberman)."

However, Marilyn Stewart, Chicago Teachers Union President,says "a good manager can't manage anything if he doesn't understand what he is managing."

I remember a scene in a WW2 war movie where Robert Mitchem said "He does not need to know how to fly as long as he can point to where we want to go."

This map shows all of the poorly performing schools in Chicago which is where you need to be mobilizing more resources, not just dollars, to help kids in Chicago get through school and into jobs and careers.

Thus, I am assigning some homework for Mr. Huberman. These are a few articles and books that you should read so you're better prepared to take on this leadership role.

For instance, you might read Charles Payne's new book, titled So Much Reform, So Little Change: The Persistence of Failure in Urban Schools.

You also might visit this web site focused on the High School Drop-Out Crisis and read some of the articles.

You definitely should visit the web site of the UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools and read articles about social and emotional learning.

These are just three out of more than 140 web sites I point to in the T/MC Research Links with information you need to digest and understand in order to be a more effective leader. You can find a few more in the discussion forum section titled "Understanding the Issues."

As you absorb this information, you'll see that you face challenges that GOD herself, or even Barack Obama, cannot solve without a whole lot of help from many people working toward the same goals, for a long time.

Thus, I encourage you to try to unite the education and business community behind a common vision of helping any child entering Chicago schools in fall 2008 being anchored in a job and starting a career by age 25. This graphic illustrates the role of parents, teachers, mentors and tutors, who PUSH kids to make good decisions and build the habits needed to achieve this goal. It also illustrates the role that our business and university communities need to take in PULLING kids through school and into adult careers and responsibilities.

It also illustrates that the day has three time frames and they all need to be filled with good learning opportunities and extra adults who can mentor kids to make good decisions and provide social and emotional support.

Don't try to manage programs in all three time frames. You have enough to do to make good schools. Use your leadership and vision to mobilize the business and faith community and the private sector to build a network of strong support programs that reach kids during the non-school hours. Get others to share ownership and responsibility with you.

I encourage you to use this Tutor/Mentor Connection Strategy Map as your own. Just change the blue box at the top to read Chicago Public Schools, or Ron's Vision, and see if it doesn't do a good job of outlining a vision and strategy that might unite many people in Chicago toward a goal we might all share.

As long as I'm able to find volunteers and donors to support Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, I'll do what I can to help you learn what you need to know, and help you mobilize all of the people and resources you'll need to succeed in this job.

Call me if you'd like to learn more. I'm at 312-492-9614 and my email is

Your friend,


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