Replacement for Arne Duncan Emerging

Barbara Eason-Watkins, chief education officer for Chicago Public Schools, is emerging as the leading candidate to replace Arne Duncan as schools CEO, according to published reports.

Duncan, CPS chief since 2001, was nominated Tuesday as U.S. Secretary of Education by president-elect Barack Obama.

The new schools chief will be appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley, then must pass muster with the Chicago Board of Education. Daley said he's got no timeline for making a choice, and mentioned no specific candidates for the job.

He said he will consider replacements from inside and outside the district.

Rufus Williams, president of the Board of Education, said the process for identifying a new CEO has just begun. reported that Eason-Watkins, 55, would likely be a popular choice, and perhaps the most obvious one within CPS circles. She has had a long educational career as a teacher, principal and administrator, and twice earned the CPS Principal of Excellence Award.

Eason-Watkins was promoted by Duncan to chief education officer in August 2001, just two months after Duncan was promoted to CEO following the departure of former schools chief Paul Vallas.

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