Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Monday, January 12, 2015

Former schools CEO Huberman bellies up to the Chicago charter feeding trough

You might remember Ron Huberman. He was the former CTA chief bureaucrat  who ran the system into the ground and who then replaced Arne Duncan as Chicago schools CEO (why not?) under Mayor Daley and went down aboard Daley's sinking ship.

He is notable for little else besides his "data-driven" reforms -- like claiming he could predict in advance, which CPS kids would likely be murdered and which ones wouldn't. He was also the guy who cut foreign language programs (they weren't on the test) and who called in the police to bust the parent protests to save Whittier School's field house.

Most importantly, Huberman was a dear friend of the city's aspiring privately-run charter networks, like UNO, Noble Street, and Chicago International. And after his dismal tenure at CPS, things began looking up for Huberman. He was able to parlay his school system connections and knowledge of procuring insider contracts into an executive position at Chicago Growth Partners and Prairie Capital. Then he started his own firm, and began reaching for some payback in the form of contracts from some of the same government-financed charter-school operators he championed as Daley’s schools chief.

According to today's Sun-Times:
Huberman, who is a member of Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner’s transition team, founded TeacherMatch LLC in 2011.
The company has since gotten contracts worth a total of more than $200,000 from two of the largest Chicago Public Schools-funded charter operators — the Noble Network of Charter Schools and the United Neighborhood Organization’s charter network — and also has gotten work from some schools in the Chicago International Charter Schools network.
TeacherMatch, which provides software to help schools screen job applicants, reported total revenues in 2013 of more than $286,000, according to school contracting records.
That same year, it got an infusion of nearly $1.9 million from investors, the records show — a sign of confidence in its future growth.
Huberman continues to serve as the company’s executive chairman, though records list its primary owner as Prairie Capital, the Chicago private-equity firm where Huberman has been a top executive since 2011.

In 2013, Huberman lobbied UNO’s then-CEO Juan Rangel and other officials, who say they had reached a “preliminary agreement” with TeacherMatch. But Rangel quit in December 2013 amid a scandal prompted by Sun-Times reports on millions of dollars in government-funded deals given by UNO to two brothers of Rangel’s top aide.

Asked how its charter network ended up doing business with TeacherMatch, an UNO official said, “It is not known who initiated those conversations.” Noble officials and Rangel declined to comment.

Huberman says, Charters “help provide options for families". He might have added the words, "especially mine".

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