Threats and Intimidation versus Collegiality: The DOE Fails Management 101

Everybody knows the dice are loaded.  

Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.  

Everybody knows the war is over. Everybody

knows the good guys lost. Everybody knows

the fight was fixed: the poor stay poor, the rich

get rich. That’s how it goes. Everybody knows.

Leonard Cohen 

It’s a cold, cruel world out there … the plutocracy has seemingly endless resources and their attacks are unrelenting. It’s discouraging when Steve Jobs, the Apple guy, blames teacher unions  for all the ills of the school systems. A New York Sun op ed  piece lauds Jobs and bemoans the power of teachers unions. Democracy is a bitch!

As reported in Edwize  many states prohibit teacher union collective bargaining or place sharp constraints on public employee unions. Needless to say those states don’t have better test scores.

Klein and company agree with Jobs but are restrained by the reality of politics. When the “newspaper of record,” the NYTimes  challenges Joel’s newest makeovers he decides to change his persona: from the tough, unyielding ideologue to the softer, kinder Chancellor.

The Department has not backed away from it’s views that the “carrot and the stick” will produce higher tests scores. The newly imposed School Progress Report  is based on the premise that the “threats” of unsatisfactory ratings as a result of a poor grade will somehow make for better principals and “threats” of denying tenure will make for better teachers.

The scions of education in the Apple ignore a wealth of evidence from experts. You don’t improve performance through fear and intimidation: you create successful organizations by building strong cultures. Deal and Kent write:

     Beneath the conscious awareness of everyday life in schools, there is a stream of thought and activity. The underground flow of feelings and folkways wends its within schools, dragging people, programs and ideas toward often unstated purposes: ‘This invisible taken-for-granted flow of beliefs and assumptions give meaning to what people say and do. It shapes how they interpret hundreds of daily transactions. This deeper structure of life in organizations is reflected and transmitted through symbolic language and expressive action. Culture consists of the stable, underlying meaning that shapes beliefs and behavior over time.” (Terrence Deal and Kent Peterson. Shaping School Culture: The Heart of Leadership, p.3.)


When Klein taps principals on both shoulders with the holy sword he does not pass along leadership skills. It is the led who determine the skills of the leader. In the “real” world leadership is acquired incrementally, step by step, either through a rigorous selection process combined with frequent assessments and promotions. It is only at the Department of Education that leaders with little or no supervisory experience are promoted to school leadership.

In too many schools the Department seems to encourage cultures of “us versus them,” teachers versus the school administration. On a citywide level “Klein” has become world of denigration.

They just don’t get it!

The “beatings will continue until morale improves” mantra is still chiseled above the den of thieves. As parents and teachers continue “calling out” Tweed Klein and company have tried to make amends – adding bus routes and backing off putting housing high schools in elementary school buildings.

The key to individual school and systemwide success of not which reading program you use: it is collaboration. It is a culture of city, Department and school leaders working together with parents, union leaders and teachers in a culture of collaboration.


6 responses to “Threats and Intimidation versus Collegiality: The DOE Fails Management 101

  1. As a strong apple supporter that’s quite a bummer about Jobs, but what can you expect from these new age corporate guys? Don’t they understand that if there weren’t unions pushing for living wages there wouldn’t be anyone around to buy their stuff.
    As for Klein, you can bet he has his nose up Hillary’s butt ( a revolting vision !) for a cabinet
    Also, I believe the threats are just threats. How the hell is he going to fire all these folks he put in place out of the Leadership Academy. I’m hearing that a lot of these quality reviews are turning up very favorable. Nevertheless, as stated, the “beating” culture he promotes just
    goes to destroy the working environment.
    What I don’t understand and I’d appreciate your insight, if they just want to privatize schools so their pals can make money, are they actually smart enough to figure out how to do that?


  2. Klein and Bloomberg feeling the heat from their botched reorganization(s) cut art program funding, roughly $70 million dollars, to show the public at the end of the fiscal year that they’ve achieved savings, what bullshit! The only teaching and learning going on in classrooms now is showing students how to pass exams and nothing more. The clock has run out on these two clowns and I’m sure we’re going to see more fiscal trickery from these two while the kids continue to pay the price.


  3. We structure and reorganize every year and yet have anything to show for it. Some of superintendents are idiots. Has anyone met Luz Cortazzo? She was my superintendent for a year. She instructed my secretary to take notes on who I meet with and when I go to the bathroom. Her background was a Pre-K teacher and a principal in an K-1 school. She would suggest things that were so crazy that I called Klein and attempted to send her to medical. She came back the next day and measured my bulletin boards and made sure my libraries were leveled. Can you believe this was a superintendent and now claims to become the next Chancellor’s Deputy? Welcome to my world.


  4. I just finished my first year as a special ed teacher in a self containted 12:1:1 classroom. I had the misfortune to have my classroom next door to Ms. Cortazzo’s office. My class was sometimes noisy because I had 8 ED students who hated each other. Three usely were off their meds. My principal gave me a U rating for the year even though my students all went from level 1 & 2 to level 3 & 4 by the end of the year and all of them passed their statewide tests and 3 moved on to CTT classes in Middle School. Cortazzo had a hearing without me being present and as a result I can’t teach in her district (4) anymore. This is hurting my ability to get another teaching job. She said something that was anti semetic to me and I have a parents statement to back it up. I hope that will help me with my appeal of my U rating. I have been subbing and working as a Z status teacher for 3 years prior to this year and have three different principals give me an S rating.


  5. These are old postings. Now Cortazzo is an ATR field supervisor. I think i will add my voice to the list of teachers who she went after. It is a developing situation i will let you know in due course!


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