1 Mayor Richard M. Daley, Schools CEO Paul Vallas and School Board President Gery Chico:
These three musketeers dominated the last half of the decade with a juggernaut of political brawn, financial finesse, stellar salesmanship and gritty, get-it-done determination. Balancing budgets, buying labor peace, finding billions for school buildings, ending social promotion and putting schools on probation sit atop a long project list.
2 G. Alfred Hess Jr. and Donald R. Moore:
As the directors of the Chicago Panel on School Policy and Finance and Designs for Change, respectively, Hess and Moore were the chief architects of the 1988 Chicago School Reform Act, which created local school councils, ended principal tenure and brought hundreds of millions of state Chapter 1 dollars directly to schools. Moore also was behind the lawsuit that is putting more special education students in regular classes.
3 Jacqueline Vaughn:
The tough-as-nails Chicago Teachers Union president, who died in 1994, led the union through two pivotal episodes with far-ranging impact: The record, 19-day strike of 1987, which precipitated the first wave of reform, and the 1993 financial crisis, when the CTU staved off assaults by the School Board and legislators who wanted to patch the board’s $400 million deficit with teacher give-backs. In the meantime, she made room for the late John Kotsakis to push his iconoclastic, reform-minded educational vision, which fueled the development of Teachers for Chicago, the Chicago Teachers Union Quest Center and the system’s academic learning standards.
4 Mayor Harold Washington:
By convening a citywide summit to hammer out a reform plan for an institution led by African Americans, the late mayor made overhauling the school system a political possibility. While some doubt Washington would have supported the level of decentralization that ensued, another observer says: “It was the twinkle in his eye that made this happen. … I know he hasn’t been around to do the legwork, but you and I wouldn’t be here if our parents didn’t think about it.”
5 Illinois Senate President James “Pate” Phillip:
The politician Chicagoans love to hate, Phillip has defined the limits of the possible in the state Legislature. Likening funding increases for Chicago schools to “pouring money down a rat hole,” he helped keep the CPS financial mess churning in 1993 and quashed Gov. Jim Edgar’s 1997 attempt to reform state school funding. In 1995, he gladly helped turn control of CPS over to Mayor Daley, put new constraints on the teachers union and pave the way for privatizing school operations.
6 Foundation officials Peter Martinez and Warren Chapman:
As the education program officer for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Martinez has taken an aggressive, hands-on approach to spending the $40 million the foundation committed to local education projects over the last decade. The creation of a professional development center at the Chicago Teachers Union, the re-structuring of the education department at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the development of academic standards at the School Board all bear his stamp. Chapman, an education program officer at The Joyce Foundation since 1992, was a leading architect of the $50 million Annenberg Challenge program in Chicago; he also transformed the education committee of the Donors Forum into “an education think-tank,” in the words of one observer. (Disclosure: The MacArthur and Joyce Foundations are major CATALYST funders.)
7 Venture capitalist Martin “Mike” Koldyke:
He founded the Golden Apple Foundation in 1985 to recognize outstanding teachers. Since then, the foundation has branched into cultivating high school students for the teaching profession (Golden Apple Scholars), training aspiring principals (LAUNCH) and training career-changers as teachers (GATE). To do the latter, the Foundation pushed through a state law in 1997 establishing so-called alternative certification of teachers.
8 University of Chicago researchers Anthony Bryk and Melissa Roderick:
Bryk founded the Consortium on Chicago School Research, which has tracked the impact of reform and provided schools with individualized reports on where they stand. Roderick, who has the ear of schools chief Vallas, has addressed issues important to educators through compelling research on truancy, dropouts and ending social promotion.
9 James Deanes and Daniel Solis:
Both galvanized key constituencies in the push for the 1988 School Reform Act—Deanes among African Americans on the West Side and Solis among Mexican Americans in Pilsen and Little Village. Deanes was then chair of the Parent/Community Council, appointed by Mayor Washington, and Solis was executive director of the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO). In the years that followed, Deanes was an outspoken advocate for African-American parents and LSC members, and Solis’s organization worked closely with schools in its neighborhoods. Since 1995, both have provided political cover to the School Board. Deanes became a director in central office, and Solis is a Daley- appointed alderman.
10 Former School Facilities Director James Harney and former Board of Education President D. Sharon Grant:
In the words of one observer, they were “the two who got caught” with their fingers in the board’s immense cookie jar. (See page 22 for details.) “Certainly they catapulted the corruption issue to the front page and the front burner and the politicians’ action plan,” noted another. Their downfall helped pave the way for Daley’s takeover, and it gave Vallas & Co. an easy act to follow.