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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rich People Who Ruin Schools, Part II

Cathie Black is just the awesomest awesomy schools chancellor EVER!

But the department has been unusually secretive about Black's schedule. She has not granted any interviews to the media since Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced her appointment on November 9th. She answered a few questions at a press conference that day and then made a brief comment to New York Post columnist Cindy Adams about how her appointment came out of left field.
Black took a few more questions yesterday after visiting PS 109 in the Bronx but didn't talk about policy, noting it was only her first day. A parent interrupted to ask her views on closing failing schools and Black said, "All of these things are very important and challenging questions and we'll come up with what we believe are the right answers."
It was Black's first visit to a public school since the state education commissioner granted her a waiver Monday from the education credentials that are normally required for school leaders. The 66 year-old publishing executive spent half an hour inside the elementary school. But reporters were not allowed to see her read to a class of first graders or meet with parents. (An industrious New York Times reporter entered the school after Black's departure and learned that she sat in a rocking chair and asked the children to name a purple stuffed dog).
What's the big secret?
It's no secret: she's unqualified. We all know it, she knows it, but she's smart enough to know she needs time to come up with some trite, hackneyed answers to the standard questions before she can trust herself to actually talk to a parent.

But, hey, I'm sure those half-hour visits and story-times with kids will get her up to speed right away. I mean, it's not like teaching is a profession or anything. At least, it's not hard like publishing:
Mayor Bloomberg has said he appointed Black because she's a "world class manager" who has the vision to steer a school system of more than a million students and an annual budget of $23 billion through a time of budget cuts. She chairs Hearst Magazines and was previously at USA TODAY and New York Magazine. Those who know her, including Katherine Wylde at the Partnership for New York City, say she is truly an excellent manager with good people skills. But her lack of experience in education means these next few weeks before she formally takes office, on January 3rd, will provide some information about how she's preparing to run the nation's largest school district.
This is the same arrogance as Gates: I made a lot of money, so I must know what I'm doing.

Well, why don't you two go design some bridges or perform some open-heart surgery or re-shingle your roofs while your at it. You're obviously qualified to do that as well.

I don't know about you other teachers, but this has been the most demoralizing part of this latest wave of "reform" - the sheer hubris of those who keep telling us that they know better than we do what's wrong with the system.

Sorry, fellas, but you don't have a freaking clue. You should be listening to us instead of dictating from your golden thrones of ignorance and arrogance.

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