Dear Mr. Joravsky,
Here is a letter I sent in to your editors, in response to your recent article about the Chicago Public Schools. I’m hoping they print it.
In Ben Joravsky’s recent article concerning the Chicago Public Schools he analyzes the recent tenure of Ron Huberman, explaining to his readers that the system has been functioning just fine without a new permanent CEO but at the same time arguing that “[p]retty much everyone I know—teachers, central office staff, parents—views his tenure as an unmitigated disaster and wants to act like he was never even there.” Later in the article Ben quotes Terry Mazany, the interim CEO, as darkly warning that when he took over from Ron “there was a loss in a unifying vision for education” (please, please, please Mr. Mazany, give the schools the unifying vision they need!) But what really caught my eye were these sentences from Ben: “Well, he did fire a bunch of people—over 500 at the central office—on the grounds that he had to cut the budget. But then he and his top aides got raises, so when all was said and done he didn’t really save the system much.” Now, I now that math might not be Ben’s strength, so let me lay out some hypothetical figures for him and your readers. If those 500 central office workers were making an average of $75,000 in wages and benefits (a very, very conservative estimate), then Ron saved the system $37,500,000 each year for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, he probably hired a few new staff and as Ben says, gave some folks raises – let’s say he hired 25 new people at $100K a pop and gave another 50 folks raises totaling $25K each. This means Ron spent $3.75 million on his “top aides” if my hypothetical scenario is close to reality. Just to be fair to Ben, let’s pretend I’m leaving out some folks Ron hired and/or gave raises to for a total of $5 million spent. That means Ron saved the CPS system a net of $32.5 million a year, every year, without any noticeable impact to CPS functioning. I don’t know about Ben and the folks he knows, but for me, I can only encourage Mayor Elect Emanuel to hire dedicated public servants of the same caliber as Mr. Huberman – folks who are willing to make tough decisions that will save taxpayers money.