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.Who is Ron Huberman? His most recent position is the Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley. Before that, he was head of the City Transit Authority. Before that, he spent nine years in the Chicago Police Department.
"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.
Huberman's stint at the CTA was marked by a fare hike and several high profile projects running over budget and time. Then again, one might ask how a police officer gets the job as the head man for the city's public transportation apparatus. The answer is just like everyone that gets a cushy job. He knows the right people.
Mayor Daley thinks so highly of the city's main public transportation apparatus that he appointed a crony to be its head. This was a crony that at the time was 33 years old and he had been a cop for nine years prior. That was his qualifications to take over the CTA. After a couple years marred by rate increases and overbudgeted projects, this same crony became Daley's Chief of Staff. Now, a couple years after this, this same crony is now in charge of the city's entire school system.
This isn't merely a reflection on the seriousness, or lack thereof, that Mayor Daley views the city's education. This is also a microcosm of who rises through the city's political apparatus, and by extension who doesn't. Huberman was obscenely unqualified to be CTA chief. He was even less qualified to be the Mayor's Chief of Staff. Now, he is even less qualified to run the city's school system. Yet, the more high profile city jobs he gets the more qualified he looks. Soon, people will forget that he began his high profile career after spending nine years as a cop. Huberman defines the saying "it's not what you know but who you know". Clearly, Huberman knows all the right people.
In Chicago, it is folks like Huberman that get ahead. Being qualified for a position is unimportant, unless that qualification means that you know all the right people. That qualification Huberman has down pat, and our city is worse for it.