CPS to get new leadership on education issues

Sources: Former principal, network chief will oversee teaching and learning

December 11, 2012

Multiple sources tell WBEZ that CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett has tapped former Chicago principal Annette Gurley to be the top cabinet member tasked with overseeing academic-related policy decisions, supervising all aspects of curriculum and instruction.

The Chief Education Officer historically reports directly to the district CEO. 

CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler denied that Gurley is being hired as Chief Education Officer. She would not say if that position would take on a new name.

Gurley's appointment is to be part of a larger reorganization, sources indicate.

Chicago Public Schools leadership has been marked by major personnel turnover recently, even as the district embarks on fundamental changes to its curriculum through adoption of new "common core" standards, and as a new system is implemented to evaluate teachers.

Regardless of the title, Gurley would be the third person to fulfill the duties of the Chief Education Officer in the past year. Byrd-Bennett was interim Chief Education Officer since May, when Noemi Donoso resigned from the position after spending not even a year on the job. University of Chicago researcher Charles Payne held the position on an interim basis before Donoso. Prior to that, Barbara Eason-Watkins served for nine years.

Gurley has overseen 32 elementary schools on the city’s West Side as the former chief of schools for the Austin-North Lawndale network. Before managing a group of schools, Gurley was the principal of Michele Clark Academic Preparatory High School for five years.

Linda Lutton contributed to this report.