Chicago Public Schools Interim CEO Terry Mazany today announced the appointment of University of Chicago professor Charles Payne as the school system's new chief education officer, but he won't have the job long.
The chief education officer is the No. 2 position at CPS and has been vacant since the end of June when Barbara Eason-Watkins, who was well respected for her work during Arne Duncan’s tenure, left the district to become superintendent of the Michigan City, Ind., public schools.
Mayor Richard Daley had said Mazany’s priority as interim schools chief would be to find a replacement for Eason-Watkins, but Mazany has had a difficult time finding someone willing to take the job for only a few months pending a new mayor and new CPS chief executive.
Joking that he was the "65th person" Mazany asked, Payne, 62, said his main job in the next 90 days is to facilitate the writing of an education plan for the district that may be useful for a future administration.
"We can begin to vet and explore some ideas that may help the next mayor or next chief executive officer get off to a faster start," Payne said. "We can do some work so they don't have to repeat that."
He also wants to "start a conversation between stakeholder groups that don't necessarily talk to each other."
Payne will be on loan from the U. of C. where he is the Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor in the School of Social Service Administration. His interests include “urban education and school reform, social inequality, social change and modern African American history.”
Payne said today he does not want the job on a long-term basis.
He wrote “Getting What We Ask For: The Ambiguity of Success and Failure In Urban Education” and recently wrote about the “persistence of failure in urban districts.”
He also is an affiliated scholar with the university's Urban Education Institute, which studies Chicago Public Schools. In addition, he is a member of the steering committee for the university's Consortium on Chicago School Research. He has 20 years of higher education experience.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in Afro-American studies from Syracuse University and a doctorate in sociology from Northwestern University, and held chairs at Northwestern and Duke University.
But some teachers are worried he does not have a teaching background--something they had hoped the next chief education officer would possess.
"My job is not to teach," Payne said. "My job is to facilitate writing an education plan."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun