Tag Archives: Rudy Crew

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?

Should Superintendents or Principals Determine School Policies? A Chancellor’s District Model, Superintendents or Principal Autonomy?

Elizabeth A. Harris, in a NY Times article (“Little College Guidance: 500 High School Students Per Counselor“) writes about the challenges of the college application process and the lack of counselors to advise students,

While small private schools can often afford to provide their students with tremendous hand-holding, large public high schools across the country struggle with staggering ratios of students to guidance counselors. Nationally, that ratio is nearly 500 to 1, a proportion experts say has remained virtually unchanged for more than 10 years. And when it comes time to apply to college, all of the students need help at once.

There are two college counselors at Midwood for about 800 seniors each year, most of whom apply to college. The office’s support staff has been cut in recent years from five people to two.

Since the economic meltdown in 2008 the number of guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists in New York State has steadily declined. One solution is to require a guidance counselor to student ratio in each school

I was discussing the article with a principal, he responded, “If you require a ratio what does the principal cut, fewer art teachers, larger class size, shouldn’t the principal decide on the staffing requirements of the school?”

Principals are assessed by data, in elementary and middle schools grades on state tests and in high schools credit accumulation and graduation rates, do the pressures of achieving a “good grade” influence the decisions of the principal? Should I add a counselor and cut an English teacher? How does the principal weigh college counseling versus the other needs of the school?

Some schools have adopted an omnibus counseling system; the guidance counselor follows the student for four years, from the ninth through the twelfth grades, including college counseling, others argue that college counseling is highly specialized and requires specially trained counselors.

Should principals be the decision makers or should the superintendent impose decisions?

The role of superintendents traditionally has been to oversee and guide schools. Rudy Crew, the chancellor in the 90s created the Chancellor’s District, the fifty or so lowest achieving schools in the city were removed from the school districts and run directly by the chancellor. The Chancellor’s District was highly prescriptive, a longer school day and school year and the highly regarded, also highly controversial Success for All reading program in all the elementary schools; the superintendent produced color-coded, laminated manuals setting forth step by step procedures: how to run a fire drill, how to order books, a “how to” guide for every action of the principal.

The Chancellor’s District, disbanded by Joel Klein; was praised in a 2004 report by NYU,

A special district under direct control of the New York City schools chancellor made substantial improvements at some of the city’s worst public schools, according to a study by researchers at New York University.

Gains in reading scores outpaced similarly low-performing schools that remained in their local community districts, said the researchers’ report, which is to be issued today.

The special district, a grouping of troubled schools from around the city known as the Chancellor’s District, was created by Chancellor Rudy Crew in 1996 and operated through the 2002-03 school year.

”The Chancellor’s District intervention significantly increased teacher resources and per-student expenditure across the district’s schools and significantly increased the percentage of students meeting the standard on the fourth-grade state reading tests,” the report states

The Chancellor’s District has taken on an iconic aura, the path to improving low performing schools is a highly proscriptive, closely supervised approach, and the role of the principal is to carry out the directives of the superintendent. The superintendent is the Chief Executive Officer, the CEO and the principal the middle manager, the guiding principles of the school district should be set by the CEO and the twenty or thirty middle managers, the principals, carrying out the organizational goals set by the superintendent.

A decade later, Rudy Crew, the creator of the Chancellor’s District, warns that the path was ill-advised,

The architect of the city’s “Chancellor’s District,” a school improvement initiative that flooded low-performing schools with resources over a decade ago, said Wednesday his much-debated approach was “dead wrong” and warned current officials not to repeat his mistakes.

“When we did this in the Chancellor’s District, I think the framework is dead wrong,” said Crew. The structure, he said, was too one-size-fits-all.

“Everybody got the same memo, everybody got the same dollars, everybody got the same requirements and then you were sort of off to the races to do the best that you could with what you had,” Crew added.

Over the last decade the enthusiasm with the superintendent as CEO waned.

Joel Klein collapsed the 32 school districts into ten regions that included high schools, a Klein iteration of the Chancellor’s District. Klein became disillusioned with the Regional model, he moved to Autonomy Zones, to Empowerment to Networks and became enthralled by perhaps the most influential book of the last decade, William Ouchi’s “Schools That Work (2003).

Ouchi’s central recommendations are expressed in seven “keys to success” that, if followed, will make any school successful. They are:

1. Every principal is an entrepreneur
2. Every school controls its own budget
3. Everyone is accountable for student performance and for budgets
4. Everyone delegates authority to those below
5. There is a burning focus on school achievement
6. Every school is a community of learners
7. Families have real choices among a variety of unique schools.

The main contribution of Ouchi’s research is that centralized school bureaucracies are detrimental to individual school success. This finding extends the management revolution launched by Deming and others in business and industry into the field of public education. This revolution has led to the “flattening” of hierarchical organizations, with the movement of decision-making to operational levels much closer to clients and consumers.

The Department leadership programs committed to the Ouchi-Klein model, the “principal as entrepreneur,” principals ran their own schools with a focus on data and accountability.

Superintendents, with experience as teachers and principals, see themselves as leaders who have moved up the ladder to their present permission. Shouldn’t they be able to intervene in schools? Shouldn’t they be able to both supervise and guide principals and ultimately have the authority to direct principals to implement staffing and policy decisions?

On the other hand the top-down superintendent as CEO model has not raised achievement, for decades superintendents closely supervised schools, while scores may have increased in some districts the school system stumbled for decades.

Should we return to a model that empowers superintendents or continue to give wider discretion to principals?

Next blog: The new School Management Model: Farina 1.0