Oliver Sicat is 32 years old.
He has been a teacher and a principal.
This is one of the screwy things that has occurred in recent years. Some guy gets his teaching certification. He teaches in a classroom for a couple of years. He doesn’t really like it. He goes back and gets his Type 75 administrative certification and becomes a principal. To an ever increasing degree, this is what the principal pool looks like.
I can’t say for sure that Sicat didn’t like teaching kids. I can say he didn’t spend much time doing it.
Now he is The Closer.
His official title is Chicago Public School’s Chief Portfolio Officer.
His job? Choosing schools to close down.
CPS has closed more than 50 neighborhood schools in the last 10 years. 150 more are now on the chopping block. Closing them will be Sicat’s job.
The CTU and Chicago neighborhood organizations have another plan.
Sicat, who previously served as the principal of UIC College Prep, a Noble Street Charter School, has already met his opponents. Last week at a community hearing on the plan for school closings, audience members shouted at Sicat, questioned his decision-making power, and demanded that the district invest in existing schools rather than close them and open up new ones.
The Chicago Teachers Union is vehemently opposed to charter schools, and last week president Karen Lewis said the new guidelines for school closings unfairly favor “publicly-funded, but privately-managed charter schools” that are not held accountable to the same standards.
“The guidelines are more of the same failed policies and practices of previous CPS administrations: moving too quickly to close neighborhood schools and replace them with charter schools without ever demonstrating that CPS faithfully tried to adequately support struggling neighborhood schools,” Lewis said.