Tag Archives: Andres Alonzo

Musing on a New Chancellor and the Quandary of the Mayor, Experienced or Brash?

Henry IV was twenty-six years old in 1076 and Gregory VII was over fifty when at long last he came out from behind the scenes and became Pope.

“Early in his papacy, Gregory VII attempted to enact reforms to the investiture process; he was met by resistance from the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV. Henry insisted that he reserved the traditionally established right of previous emperors to “invest” bishops and other clergymen, despite the papal decree.

Henry renounced Gregory as pope; in return, Gregory excommunicated and deposed Henry. He stated furthermore that, one year from that day, the excommunication would become permanent and irrevocable.”

Henry feared he would lose his kingdom if he did not come as a supplicant to the pope and receive absolution from the ban on receiving the holy sacraments.

“Dressed in woolen garments and with bare feet he traveled across the Alps to the papal castle in Canossa in the height of winter blizzards and told the pope that he cared much more for the celestial than the earthly kingdom; and offered to accept humbly whatever penance the pope would inflict.”

Today, “Canossa” refers to an act of penance or submission. To “go to Canossa” is an expression – to describe doing penance, often with the connotation that it is unwilling or coerced.

Will Shael “Go to Canossa” to seek absolution from the new pope, Bill de Blasio?

(Thought a little Core Knowledge and Common Core would raise the standards of the blog)

Over the last few weeks Shael announced that he was piloting a new accountability system not based solely on test scores, exactly what the union has been espousing for years.

• Measures of the quality of student classwork (e.g., research papers, extended essays, art, and science projects);

• Measures that are based on other student outcomes, including student course outcomes, especially at the elementary and middle school level;

• Measures that quantify elements of our school Quality Reviews (e.g., the quality of classroom instruction, student engagement, supports for teachers and families); and

• Measures of student academic behaviors and mindsets that are associated with college and career readiness (e.g., persistence, ability to work in teams, effective communication, and organizational skills).

On a panel on Tuesday Shael chastised the mayor and the union for negotiating an extended instructional day in 2005 rather than using the time for staff collaboration, again, basically a long held union core belief.

Has Shael “Gone to Canossa?”

Will the new pope “lift the ban” and select Shael to lead the school system? Unlikely.

The burdens are too great: was Shael an architect of the ATR pool, fair student funding, the enormous emphasis on testing, the training of principals and on and on, or, was he the voice of reason within the administration who was the “good soldier” who carried out orders with which he did not agree?

It is more likely that “Pope” Bill will want to break with the past, a new face.

Will he seek another large city superintendent, like Josh Starr (Montgomery County) or Andres Alonso (Baltimore)? Starr, after a few years in the classroom moved to Tweed and on to Stamford, Connecticut as superintendent. Starr had a rocky six years, rigid, battling with the NEA union local and the community. In Montgomery County he has become an outspoken opponent of high stakes testing, however, he’s an avid data-phile. Alonso was never more than a few steps away from Joel Klein and in Baltimore followed the (de)form playbook, although he did work closely with the union.

Neither is a break from the past although both appear eager to please their boss.

There are a number others hovering in the wings.

Betty Rosa was a superintendent in the South Bronx is currently a member of the Board of Regents and has been an expert and lifelong advocate for English language learners. Kathleen Cashin, a highly successful Regional Superintendent under the early Klein years, and, also a member of the Board of Regents, a professor at Fordham University, has been an outspoken critic of the Duncan/King game plan. Irma Zadoya, also a Regional Superintendent under Klein is currently leading the department leadership Programs. Carmen Farina, an advisor to the presumptive mayor has made it clear she is retired.

Maybe a superintendent in a high performing school district: Paris, Seoul, Helsinki?

Will Bill want to keep the “trains on the tracks,” or, like Governor Jerry Brown in California directly challenge the “Duncan Rules?”

I think the time is ripe to challenge the decade of (de)form, to pick a chancellor not tied to Arne in DC or John King in Albany, to pick a chancellor who is amenable to the wishes of parents and professionals, a chancellor to lead us back to sanity.