View Full Version : All NYC NYC Mayor Bloomberg Takes Idea of Education Outsider to New Level

11-11-2010, 09:18 AM
This from the N.Y. Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/nyregion/11schools.html) by Elissa Gootman and Jennifer Medina:
The notion of who can run a large public school system has shifted radically in the past decade, as lawyers, bankers and budget experts with little classroom experience — beyond sitting in one — have been tapped as superintendents and chancellors throughout the country.

The departing New York City schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, of course, is a prime example. But in the eight years since he was appointed, the education world has changed, and become fertile ground for a crop of would-be school executives with one foot in the world of business management and one foot in the world of school reform.

In choosing Cathleen P. Black as Mr. Klein’s successor, the mayor made a pointed choice to go outside that growing circle and appears to have taken the idea of the outsider-chancellor to a new level.

While Mr. Klein had previously served as deputy White House counsel and the nation’s top antitrust official, and even briefly taught in a public school, Ms. Black, the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, has spent her career steeped in business.

Ms. Black has freely acknowledged her “limited exposure” to unions. She and her children are products of private schools, while Mr. Klein attended New York public schools. She sits on a charter school advisory board, but joined only a few months ago and so has yet to attend a meeting.

According to the city Education Department, Ms. Black’s other experience with public schools includes participating in a mentor day with Michelle Obama at a Detroit public school and, several years ago, serving as “principal for a day” in a school in the South Bronx.

“I don’t know how far is too far, but it’s certainly pushing the envelope,” Joseph P. Viteritti, a public policy professor at Hunter College, said of the mayor’s choice. “What lies ahead for her is as much political as it is managerial or education related.”

The issue of whether Ms. Black is qualified is likely to arise as the state decides whether to grant her permission to take the job. State law requires that all school chiefs have at least a master’s degree and a professional certificate in educational leadership, as well as three years’ experience in schools. Because Ms. Black has no such certification, she needs a waiver from the state Education Department, as Mr. Klein received.

The city will have to submit a statement explaining Ms. Black’s “exceptional qualifications,” along with a formal résumé and her academic transcripts. A committee will make a nonbinding recommendation to Education Commissioner David Steiner, who will make the final decision.

A refusal to grant the waiver would be a stunning rebuke to Mr. Bloomberg. Tony Avella, a former city councilman from Queens who was elected to the State Senate, sent a letter to Mr. Steiner asking that he deny the waiver. A similar petition that circulated on the Internet had garnered more than 900 signatures by 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“I believe the chancellor should be an educator, who understands what the students go through,” Mr. Avella said.

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