CHICAGO (STMW) — The same coalition of parents, community leaders and teachers union officials who said last month that the next mayor should not control the Chicago Public Schools system has put together a panel to help identify a new schools chief for the city.

Critics have been trying to convince mayoral candidates to push for an end to a landmark 1995 law that put control of city schools in Mayor Richard Daley’s hands, allowing him to appoint a schools CEO and school board members. Last month, the coalition held a news conference calling for a change in how the schools are run, advocating for an elected school board.

The blue-ribbon panel includes Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, Chicago Principals & Administrators Association President Clarice Berry, and state Reps. Esther Golar, D-6th, and Cynthia Soto, D-4th, as well as community leaders, parents and teachers.

By the time a new mayor takes office in May, the panel hopes to offer three top choices for a schools chief. People with experience in education rather than business. Members plan to look at top educators across the country.

“We want a real superintendent in Chicago, a real educator, and we want the top person we can find,” said Julie Woestehoff, executive director of Parents United for Responsible Education, one of the groups in the coalition. “So far, the mayor has been bringing people in from City Hall and people with no education background, and we don’t think that’s giving our schools (system) the leadership it needs.”

Of the four leading mayoral candidates, only City Clerk Miguel del Valle has said he supports moving to an elected school board.

Barbara Radner, director of the Center for Urban Education at DePaul University, said it may be a good idea for now to have the mayor choose a schools chief, since so many of the previous administration’s controversial policies will need to be re-evaluated.

“I think it would be great to have a superintendent, but we’re in a transition period,” Radner said.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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