January 28, 2010
Mayor Richard M. Daley announced today that he has appointed Mary Richardson-Lowry as a member of the Chicago Board of Education and recommended to the Board that she be named President.
Richardson-Lowry would succeed Michael Scott, who died last November.
“Our schools are at a turning point. Either we accept the challenge to take them to a new level of achievement or we risk falling behind,” Daley said at a City Hall news conference.
“To me, Mary is the right person to help lead our schools to the next level. She is a solid manager. I know her to be a person who will fight for people. Most importantly, I know that she will always put children first,” he said.
Richardson-Lowry is a partner in the law firm of Mayer Brown. She is a former commissioner of the City’s Buildings Department and a former City assistant corporation counsel.
As building commissioner, she helped guide the rewriting of the city’s building code and the revamping of the city’s building permit process, launching the nation’s first online permit system.
As a partner at Mayer Brown, she has played an active role not only in helping the firm attract lawyers from diverse backgrounds but also in mentoring promising young people.
Daley said that although Chicago Public Schools’ students have made real progress in recent years, he is not yet satisfied with where things stand and he believes most parents and taxpayers share that view.
“We must forge ahead with our commitment to improve classroom learning and even better educate our students. Unless we graduate a new generation of students who are prepared for the jobs of today and the future, we risk our ability to recruit new businesses and create new jobs in Chicago,” the Mayor said.
“And, we risk Chicago's future as a city where our middle class and working families have the opportunity to thrive,” he said.
Daley said the CPS leadership team of Richardson-Lowry, Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman and Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason-Watkins must remain focused on the fundamentals of learning and of education.
“They must stay on course with our efforts to teach the basics -- reading, math and science. They need to do even more to turn around our underachieving schools,” he said.
In addition, he said, they must do more to help improve neighborhood schools, make sure they have the confidence of the parents and people of Chicago in their efforts to fairly recruit students into special schools, lower the dropout rate, improve the graduation rate and get even more students to go on to college or some form of higher education.
“And, of course, they must do even more to help keep our students safe as they go to and from school every day. This includes doing all they can to provide after school positive alternatives for them, to help keep them away from gangs, guns and drugs,” the Mayor said.
Daley said that in these difficult economic times, balancing this year’s CPS budget will be difficult, but he asked the school leaders to put students and learning in the classroom first and protect them from spending cuts.
He asked them to go to Springfield to seek a school funding increase and the other reforms that they believe are needed.
Daley said all Chicagoans are concerned about the accusations of spending impropriety at the Board and he asked Richardson-Lowry to immediately get on top of the issue so the taxpayers see they are protected.
“They must have confidence in Board and CPS spending policies, proposals and priorities. This includes managers, Board Members and executives. I won't settle for anything less,” he said.
Chicago Public Schools serves 417,855 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.