Friday, April 08, 2011

Michael Fiorillo Warns Not to Celebrate Black's Departure; Leonie Haimson Gets it Right in the NY Times

Hello All,

This is not a good development. Every day that Black was Chancellor, she further undermined Bloomberg and revealed his contempt for students, parents and teachers. Walcott will follow the same smash-and-grab agenda, but will be far more adept at it, and his being black will provide a partial shield from criticism.

After all, if people are motivated by power and greed, better for the rest of us if they are incompetent and the butt of jokes. Black was a gift from the Gods of Absurdity, which they have sadly taken back from us.

Let's all hope that this comes too late to revive people's view of Bloomberg, but it makes our job harder, not easier.


Michael Fiorillo

She Inherited a Mess

Leonie Haimson, a New York City public school parent, is the executive director of Class Size Matters, a citywide advocacy group.

New York City has the largest school district in the country, with 1.1 million students. Unfortunately, as the experience of Cathie Black shows, having a good record in business is not enough to be a successful chancellor.

Cathie Black inherited a huge mess from Joel Klein, who made one mistake after another.

You have to understand something about teaching and learning, how to listen to stakeholders, and how to work collaboratively with communities to move their schools forward. Joel Klein came in with an attitude that he knew best, that the schools were his fiefdom to control, that parents had nothing of importance to communicate, and proceeded to make one disastrous policy mistake after another.

He coasted for many years on effective public relations, increased budgets and test score inflation. When he started cutting school budgets and the test score bubble burst, he had nothing left to rely upon and departed for greener pastures.

Cathie Black came in and inherited a huge mess. One-fourth of all elementary schools have waiting lists for kindergarten because of overdevelopment and incompetent planning. One-tenth of eighth graders were not admitted to any of their high school choices. In a system supposedly based on expanding choice, this administration has taken away the most basic choice of all: to be able to send your child to a neighborhood school.

Class sizes are larger in the early grades than they have been in more than a decade, schools have lost art, music and science, and are forced to focus on test prep; and parents’ desire that their schools be helped to improve, rather than threatened with closure or lose precious space to a charter school is routinely ignored.

Dennis Walcott has a big job ahead of him. He clearly has more experience and political skills than Ms. Black. But what he needs to do is convince parents that he cares about their priorities for their children, show teachers that he knows something about the challenges they face every day, and demonstrate to all New Yorkers that he is ready to take the school system in a new direction. Whether that will happen is unlikely; but one can always hope.


ASTRAKA said...

Dennis Walcott is as irrelevant as the PEP puppets. He will push for reforms favored by Bloomberg. A chancellor who is not independent is just a figure head.

Euben Plade said...

News flash: What was really behind the Black departure and the abandoning ship by the deputies...disagreement about issuing layoff notices. They are in the pipeline and will now have Walcott's signature on them to show how serious they are.