I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Insult to Educators

The nomination of Cathie "Hearst" Black to lead the NYC schools is an insult to educators everywhere:
Mayor Bloomberg nominated Cathie Black to replace Klein after a secret search that was so secret no one in the New York City Department of Education or the New York State Education Department even knew that Klein was leaving. No real search was ever done and no effort was made to find a candidate with the credentials to run a major school system. Bloomber described Black as "a superstar manager who has succeeded spectacularly in the private sector." Black is the chair of Hearst Magazines, which publishesEsquire, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, and Good Housekeeping. What Bloomberg neglected to mention was that this world-class manager was demoted over the summer from president of Hearst Magazines, the position where she actually managed things.
If anything, when it comes to operating a public school system, Black's life experience makes her even more clueless than Joel "Clueless" Klein. As a girl she attended Catholic private schools in Chicago, and she later went to a religious college. She owns two homes. A ten million dollar co-op on Park Avenue in Manhattan and a Connecticut estate where her children attend boarding school. Her husband is a lawyer and wealthy Republican donor.
Suspiciously, Black continues the Murdoch connection. Since this summer, she has served on the advisory board of a well-financed Manhattan charter school. Murdoch is co-chair of the board.
There is an online petition to New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner demanding that he deny the waiver needed to appoint an unqualified candidate as the new School Chancellor. You can sign the petition at petitiononline.com/DenyWaiv/.
It's like charter school boards have become the new country clubs: the wealthy join to expand their networks.

I do not think it is a good idea for non-educators to run schools systems, but I'm not prepared to completely dismiss the idea out-of-hand: I imagine there are good hospital administrators who are not doctors.

But if you are going to run a system - especially one like NYC - without having been a teacher and/or principal, you'd better bring some other unique experience to the table. Black clearly has none.

Why should any teacher, principal, or supervisor listen to her about curriculum? About testing? About merit pay? About evaluations? Has my profession fallen into such disrepute that we don't even consider it a profession anymore, where supervisors must be at least conversant in the field they work in?

And, once again: schools are NOT businesses. They should not be run like businesses. When a business unit fails, you shutter it and stop providing the product. You can't stop providing education to a child.

Bloomberg has been a joke, and the results of his tenure - the parameters of which he set for himself - prove it. When people talk about him as president, it's almost as laughable as when they talk about Chris Christie as president.


calugg said...

Quite simply: If Cathie Black is qualified to run the NYC public schools, then my cat Gilda is as well. Let’s make the comparisons: Neither Gilda or Ms. Black have spent more than a fleeting moment in a school–much less worked in a public school or public school district. Neither has taken any of the licensure examinations that are expected for NYS leaders of public schools. Similarly, neither has taken the advanced graduate study to lead a public school district.

I’m being unduly harsh, as only a graduate of the Roseanne Barr School of Charm can be, but this is the last in a series of dubious appointments by various NYC mayors. Why do some pols believe that educational leaders don’t have to know a damn thing about the core technologies of public schools: Learning and Teaching.

At least Gilda has the good sense to flee when she knows she’s completely “out of field.” I’m not as hopeful for Ms. Black.

Duke said...

Funny and TRUE.