On Tuesday Cathie Black will have to show off her attributes, she’ll have to convince the Steiner Commission that a career as a leader in the realm of media translates into running the largest school system in the nation. Her glaring absence of any experience or interest in public schools is an obstacle.
For decades New York City school leaders worked their way through the system, in the early 90’s three superintendents came from other school districts (Jerome Green, Ramon Cortines and Rudy Crew), Black will be the third superintendent who requires a waiver.
Prior to 1970 the school system was lead by an appointed Board of Education, a policy board aloof from day-to-day operations. The era of decentralization (1970-2002) created a highly politicized Board, appointed by the borough presidents and the mayor, and 32 quasi independent elected school boards.
Some school boards were highly effective, parents and teachers and communities collaborating and working together, in too many the school boards were dominated by narrow political interests and became patronage pools for the local oligarchies.
Under Bloomberg mayoral control excluded communities, earned the enmity of local electeds who had no voice or authority over schools in their community, no role for parents, a top-down system, arrogant, at times at war with neighborhoods.
Klein proclaims that he wasn’t bold enough, quoting one of his heroes, Sir Michael Barber, “boldness,” without positive results is foolish. Under the Klein leadership the system has staggered from management model to model, accountability has been defined as test prep, the workforce is demoralized and hostile, and major initiatives, i.e., open market has produced results the opposite of their intent. (more to come in a later post).
Ms. Black will first have to charm the Steiner appointees.
New York University Professor Pedro Noguera said the commissioner had covered his bases. “Steiner’s aware that this is very controversial,” Noguera said. “So if you think about it, instead of just him making the decision he can say, ‘Look, I got a group of very reputable people in education who agreed with me.’”
“That doesn’t mean he’s going to agree with whatever they recommend but he’s got a good group to back him up,” Noguera said.
Her first meeting with reporters did not go well,
(from NY Times) At 7:05 a.m., a top-hatted valet emerged from the marble lobby, hailed a cab, opened its door and stood sentry by the passenger seat. A moment later, a second attendant appeared, carrying a very undoorman-like Longchamp handbag over his shoulder, and deposited it into the car.
Ms. Black, head down, trench coat buckled tightly, followed.
A reporter stood in her path. “Can we ask you a few questions?” he asked.
“No, you can’t,” she said, rushing by.
Steiner will have to decide,
How is she going to determine whether the advice of a deputy regarding an educational issue has merit?
And, if chosen Ms. Black will have be seductive indeed to win over a doubting public?
Will she chose to lap dance with Michael Mulgrew?