Tag Archives: Josh Starr

Who will be selected as the next NYS Commissioner of Education? From within NYS? The acting Commissioner? A National Leader?  Will Principals/Teachers/Parents be part of the search process?

At the July Regents Meeting Commissioner Elia announced she is resigning her position as state commissioner  effective August 31st.

The only shock about the resignation Monday of state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia is that it came so soon. 

Tension between Elia and the Regents that had been building for more than a year hit a new peak at the board’s June monthly meetings.

The Board of Regents appointed Beth Berlin, a highly effective deputy as acting commissioner. A few months later Berlin left the Department for a job as COO at SUNY Empire College; somewhat surprisingly the Board appointed Shannon Tahoe, the Board attorney as acting commissioner.

On Thursday, May 28th, the position was posted  with a quick return date of Monday, June 8th.

The Board seeks an individual who will bring visionary, transformative, inclusive, equitable, and decisive leadership to the position as the Board’s chief executive officer.

And goes on to describe the “attributes (the term used in the posting) sought in the next commissioner,

The Board of Regents seeks an individual with exceptional qualities of leadership, statesmanship, and unquestionable integrity … the ability to articulate a shared vision that will shape the future of the state’s largest educational enterprise, bringing creative, can-do problem-solving while carrying out the goals and policies of the Board of Regents in a responsible manner. As the face and voice of the NYSED, the Commissioner will be a forward-thinking, inspirational, and compelling statewide communicator.

 … Regents Search Committee will identify a candidate with considerable emotional intelligence who will embrace the power of continuity with change.  

 Will the Search Committee include stakeholders?

I would list a few “attributes” that are more realistic,

* The ability to j ump tall buildings in a single bound and faster than a speeding bullet

* A reptilian skin and, at times, a venomous tongue

* Jesus-Moses-Mohammad-Buddha-like patience

* A combination of Lincoln and MLK oratorical skills

* Financial wizardry

* Political skills of LBJ and Boss Tweed

*Skilled in meditation, yoga and mindfulness

* A classmate of Plato in Socrates’ class

 The posting requires that “The successful applicant will have an earned doctorate/terminal degree from an accredited institution of higher education (preferred) and a record,“ and lists fifteen “attributes,” most of which are “soft skills.”

Does the applicant have to have been a public school teacher, school leader and superintendent?  I don’t know, I’m probably too old-fashioned.

New York State is unique, the governor has no formal roll in education governance, the legislature selects the Board of Regents members and the Board selects the commissioner, the powers emanate from the State Constitution, on the other hand, the Board and the commissioner have no role in determining the budget or the allocation of the budget, the funding formula: an awkward configuration. (BTW, New York State leads the nation in inequitable funding among schools). There are a few exceptions, the My Brothers Keeper initiative ($18m) is funded through the budget and managed by the commissioner.

I know this sounds crazy, the commissioner does not select, supervise and has limited authority over the 700 school districts and 4400 schools. Elected school boards hire superintendents and curriculum is the responsibility of the school district.

The commissioner requires specific legislation to intervene in any school district.

The Board of Regents and the SUNY Charter Institute are charter school authorizers and the commissioner recommends to the Board new charters, charter renewals and charter changes.

The Board and the new commissioner will be deeply engaged in a two year long review of graduation requirements,

The commissioner plays a major role in the “professions” determining licensing requirements and regulations and well as proprietary schools..

In other words, it’s a complex job that requires being on the same “wave length” as the seventeen members of the Board of Regents, an ear at the governor’s keyhole, a respectful relationship with the legislature and, of course, working closely with unions and parent advocacy organizations.

Once upon a time a senior superintendent from the state would be selected as commissioner, and serve for many years with nary a mention in the media.

These days education is “covered” by print and online media on a daily basis.

Who are the frontrunners?

Do you go back to the former model and select a current senior superintendent or a popular younger superintendent, maybe Michael Hynes  currently superintendent in Port Washington.

Rudy Crew, a former New York City superintendent announced he is leaving as President of Medgar Evers College ….

Are any of the current Board of Regents members interested? Six of the current Regents were superintendents in New York State, or,

perhaps a current superintendent from a large urban city or a commissioner in another state,

or, the current acting commissioner, Shannon Tahoe,

or, a candidate with a national reputation, perhaps Josh Starr.

What do you think?  Any other candidates that would be a good fit?

Any currently unemployed super heroes?

Is New York City Ready to Select a Chancellor in a Post Racial World?

* We’ve elected an Afro-American president – twice.

* A 2012 Gallup Poll reports, “Continuing to represent one of the largest shifts of public opinion in Gallup history, 87% of Americans now favor marriage between blacks and whites, up from 4% in 1958.”

“… the total number of interracially married couples has increased from 0.7% in 1970 to 3.9% in 2010.”

* In the September 2013 mayoral primary white candidate de Blasio and black candidate Thompson each received 42% of the Afro-American vote.

* The Supreme Court, in a number of decisions, sees, “affirmative as increasingly incompatible with the aims of the so-called post-racial age in which a first black president would seem to argue against any more need for racial redress,” writes Harvard professor Randall Kennedy.

Deborah Plummer, a psychologist writing on the Huffington Post “Black Voices ‘, see attitudes re race relations as a process,

A post-racial society is more like a continuous improvement process that requires incremental improvements over time rather than a “breakthrough” improvement that happens all at once as the result of a black American as president. Each one of us has to be involved in the continuous improvement process examining our own attributes and owning our behaviors…

Over the last week mayor-elect de Blasio announced the selection of Tony Shorris as first deputy mayor and Bill Bratton as police commissioner. Both selections were treated positively, with some discomfort over Bratton and whether his views on stop and frisk have mellowed since his days as commissioner in Los Angeles.

The next high profile selection is the chancellor – the leader of the school system. Education was a leading issue as de Blasio clawed his way to victory. He consistently opposed charter schools and co-location of charter schools in public school buildings, suggested charging charter schools rent, opposed the closing of struggling schools, letter-grade report cards and the overbearing testing-testing-testing regimen.

One would hope he would find a chancellor with a history that is congruent with the mayor-elect’s views. The current candidates of color who serve or served as large city school leaders, Kaya Henderson in DC, Barbara Byrd Bennett in Chicago and former supe in Baltimore, Andres Alonso, all followed the Broad Academy/Duncan/Bloomberg game book – charters, school closings, data and testing – all policies that would appear to be antithetical to the de Blasio game book. The selection would undoubted satisfy the NY Urban League and a host of electeds and activists who are demanding the appointment of a person of color to a high profile position in the administration, and, you can’t get much more high profile than chancellor.

Candidates, at least candidates in the press (see Gotham Schools here and the NY Daily News here) that espouse de Blasio’s policies are Josh Starr, superintendent in Montgomery County and Kathleen Cashin, a member of the Board of Regents with a long resume within New York City. Starr, in a high wealth district has been an aggressive opponent of testing, and had a lackluster six years as superintendent in Stamford, Cashin, in her role as a regent, voted against the Principal/Teacher Evaluation Plan and aggressively supports parents and classroom teacher, she was a beloved and highly effective superintendent in the poorest districts in New York City. Carmen Farina, who has been “out of the loop” for years, is a close advisor to de Blasio.

Communities of color seem to me to be far more “post-racial” than white communities. Neighborhoods are deeply ethnic – a friend of mine visiting from another city walked across Brooklyn, she couldn’t believe that Pakistani neighborhoods abutted an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood which nestled up to a Chinese neighborhood and a Caribbean area that led to a Russian community.

“Do they get along?” she asked.

I thought a moment, “Benign neglect,” and much better choices of restaurants.

If you are white you probably live in a white neighborhood with white friends and white work colleagues, if you’re a person of color you probably live in a community of color, however, you probably work in a predominantly white workplace, your kids’ teachers are probably mostly white, as are the local police.

You don’t applaud because the local cop on the beat is black or your daughter’s principal, you make your decisions on the quality of the police officer, the principal and the teacher.

Charles Barron may scream that skin color should be a first priority; parents and community members are far more sophisticated,

Let’s hope that for the sake of parents and kids the mayor-elect believes in a post racial world.

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.