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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NYC's New Chancellor And Joel Klein's Legacy

What a mess


CEO takes aim at NYC schools


Bill Linville and Philip Tremblay, teachers in New York City, look at the new boss of the New York City public schools, and the anti-union legacy she inherits.

November 30, 2010

IT'S A typical story out of the business press: A controversial CEO known for downsizing, streamlining and forcing concessions from workers leaves a major organization for a position at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. He'll be replaced by a "world-class manager," the former president of Hearst magazines, who "earned a reputation in publishing as a tough-minded chief executive who never left her employees guessing what she wanted." [1]

But this isn't a report on a changeover in the executive suites at Fortune 500 companies--it's about Mayor Michael Bloomberg's controversial choice of who will preside over the education of 1 million students in New York City.

Joel Klein, who served as New York City schools chancellor from 2002 to the present, is set to be replaced by Cathleen Black, a longtime corporate insider and publishing mogul. Black's claim to educational experience entails "serving" with Michelle Obama on tutor day at a Detroit public school and being "principal for a day" in a South Bronx school, the only two known instances in which she's entered a public school.

According to Bloomberg, Black "understands that we have to make sure that our kids have the skill sets to partake in the great American dream...there is no one who knows more about the skills our children will need to succeed in the 21st century economy."

This is like saying you can be the coach of the New York Giants because you know the players should be big, strong and fast.

Or, as retired teacher Norm Scott puts it in a satire at his Education Notes blog [2], perhaps the New York Mets were looking at Cathie Black as their new general manager before she was pegged by Klein, since the Mets "endorsed Bloomberg's vision of a corporate manager not needing to know anything about the area they are managing."

Since she lacks any education credentials, Black requires a waiver from New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner. Facing a public outcry, an advisory panel, stacked with Bloomberg favorites, voted four against, two in favor and two "not at this time" for Black's nomination. It was a startling rebuke of the mayor, who is used to dictating educational policy without dissent.

However, after some horse-trading between Steiner and Bloomberg, a deal appears to have been worked out to allow Black to serve--as long as a reliable number-two with experience in the education field is at her side. Under an agreement leaked to the media November 29, New York City Department of Education official Shael Polakow-Suransky will serve as second-in-command to Black.

Polakow-Suransky has played a key role in the implementation of the Bloomberg agenda, including opening small schools and charter schools. As deputy chancellor of performance and accountability, he has overseen a punitive evaluation system that resulted in a rash of school closures. Thus, all signs point to a continuation of the major policies of the Klein years.

Most New Yorkers are deeply suspicious of Bloomberg's choice of Black to head the schools. A Quinnipiac University poll showed residents believed by a 2-1 margin that Black was not qualified for the job.

Opponents of Black's nomination started a petition calling for the denial of Black's waiver that gathered more than 10,000 signatures. Prominent opponents of Bloomberg in the City Council, such as Charles Barron, have also been outspoken in calling for a denial of Black's waiver.

And yet, in spite of the widespread distrust of Bloomberg's crony-capitalist approach to the education system and the grassroots opposition to the nomination, Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), said in a statement, "We've worked well with Mr. Polakow-Suransky in the past, and we look forward to working with him and Ms. Black in the future on the critical issues the school system faces."

This shows the continued lack of will among union leaders like Mulgrew to resist the corporate agenda for education, even when the majority of the public is on our side.

SINCE IT appears that we are in for more of the same under the new administration, it is worth reviewing the legacy of her predecessor, Joel Klein.

According to education historian Diane Ravitch, under Klein, "New York City became the testing ground for market-based reforms." Corporate education "reformers" pointed to New York as a major success.

Klein introduced a report-card grading system for schools, closed 91 of them, initiated a system of Teacher Data Reports that ranks teachers based on controversial "value-added" models, and opened up New York school buildings to privately run charter schools.

As a reward for this frontal assault on the school system, New York won the 2007 Broad Prize for Urban Education--named for Eli Broad, the billionaire real estate mogul who has bankrolled corporate school "reform" in cities across the U.S.

The results? Bloomberg has long touted the city's improvements in state test scores in Math and English Language Arts (ELA) for grades 3-8. However, these were mostly the result of a rescaling of the scores to lower standards for proficiency. For example, a student who scored "proficient" on a 2006 test ranked in the 45th percentile nationally (meaning that 55 percent of students scored higher), while in 2009, a student who scored "proficient" scored in the 20th percentile nationally.

As a result of this test-score inflation, the number of proficient students on the grade 3-8 math exam jumped from 57 percent in 2006 to 81.8 percent in 2009. In short, Bloomberg and Klein, like their good friends on Wall Street, created a bubble.

When an equally dramatic drop in test scores resulted from the rescaling of the 2010 tests for grade 3-8 Math and English Language Arts state tests, the bubble popped, and Klein and Bloomberg's house of cards began to tumble. In fact, according to the New York Daily News [3], Klein's resignation came on the heels of growing tensions between Klein and Bloomberg over the test score fiasco and other setbacks.

Klein will be remembered by many as a tone-deaf bureaucrat who treated teachers, parents and students with contempt. Last year, the city pushed to close 19 schools despite a wave of protests from those school communities. When the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), a fake school board controlled by the mayor, called a hearing, hundreds turned out to testify and protest.

As Klein called the meeting to order, he was unable to speak for several minutes because of chants and booing from within the room. Once the meeting finally began, students, parents and teachers testified, pointing to the racism underlying the school closings and the broader agenda to undermine public schools and grant space to selective charter schools. At three in the morning, after nine hours of angry testimony, the panel voted, one by one, to close the schools. The school closings were later reversed in a court decision.

While Klein refused to listen to the parents, students and teachers about when it came to educational policy, he kept an open-BlackBerry policy with people who were trying to undermine public education. In February, Daily News reporter Juan Gonzalez uncovered 125 private e-mails between Klein and Eva Moskowitz [4], the founder of Harlem Success Academy, which runs a group of charter schools, mostly in Harlem.

Moskowitz has targeted several Harlem school buildings, pushing out and undermining public schools to gain access to rent-free classrooms--often in the face of vociferous protests from parents and teachers. And all along, Klein has been a big supporter. Besides speaking at numerous charter school events and helping to publicize Moskowitz's venture, Klein also attended poker-night fundraisers teeming with hedge fund managers to help Moscowitz.

According to the e-mails uncovered by Gonzalez, Moskowitz suggested schools that could be closed and buildings that were "underutilized" so she could poach them--and she repeatedly complained to Klein about DOE officials when they weren't moving quickly enough for her.

Contrast his close relationship with Moskowitz to Klein's notorious practice of spending time on his BlackBerry during PEP hearings or walking out of the room when outraged parents and community members opposed his policies, and the essence of Klein's legacy is laid bare.

NOW KLEIN is moving on, and stands to make big money. News Corp. officials told the New York Times that Klein would be working on "developing business strategies for the emerging educational marketplace."

In fact, on November 22, News Corp. purchased 90 percent of Wireless Generation, a provider of educational evaluation services, for $360 million. Wireless Generation runs the Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS) that runs periodic assessments in New York City schools and compiles the results into an online database.

Perhaps News Corp. executives had their eye on the purchase of Wireless Generation for some time. But the timing of the purchase so close to Klein's hiring raises more than an eyebrow. In fact, an online search of the city's Office of the Comptroller Web site reveals what appears to be a recent million increase in Wireless Generation's contract for administering its assessments--from $6.05 million to $7.55.

In a time of significant budget cuts on the school level, the DOE is spending even more on these onerous tests, which add more stress to students and most teachers have little use for. But they will be moneymakers for News Corp. and its new education services boss, Joel Klein.

As Klein cashes in, Cathie Black will try to further his agenda of privatizing schools, bashing teachers unions and leaving the vast majority of kids to underfunded and segregated schools.

But the opposition to Black is encouraging. We need to use this anger to build a movement that defends the idea that public education is not a business--and that our children are not for sale.

Material on this Web site is licensed by, under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd 3.0) [5] license, except for articles that are republished with permission. Readers are welcome to share and use material belonging to this site for non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Unsealing A Criminal Court Record For 3020-a Hearing Is Not Allowed

Arbitrator Howard Edelman has ordered that a teacher brought to a 3020-a Hearing before him must submit the testimony given in a criminal proceeding for which the teacher was found not guilty and the record was sealed. Edelman stated that if the teacher did not produce the sealed record requested, that this teacher would not be allowed to testify at the 3020-a.

Mr. Edelman, how does your ruling comply with the decision below?

Betsy Combier


82 N.Y.2d 128, 623 N.E.2d 1154, 603 N.Y.S.2d 804 (1993).

October 14, 1993

1 No. 192 [1993 NY Int. 193]

Decided October 14, 1993


This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the New York Reports.

Frederick K. Reich, for Appellant.

Deborah R. Douglas, for Respondent.



The general rule established by Criminal Procedure Law 160.50 is that -- unless the court determines that the interests of justice require otherwise -- the record of a criminal action or proceeding upon termination in favor of the accused "shall be sealed and not made available to any person or public or private agency" (subd [1][c]). The statute specifies that the sealed records shall be made available upon request to the accused and to six enumerated categories of persons or public or private agencies (see, subd [1][d]). The question presented in this appeal is whether a board of education, a public agency not listed in CPL 160.50(1)(d), is entitled to obtain such sealed records for use in a hearing under Education Law § 3020-a on charges brought against a tenured teacher.

For reasons to be explained, we conclude that a board of education may not have access to sealed records for such purpose. It follows that in this case there was no legal basis for directing the unsealing of records pertaining to the unsuccessful prosecution of respondent for a misdemeanor charge of drug possession. There should, accordingly, be a reversal.


Respondent, a tenured music teacher, was arrested on May 12, 1990 on charges of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance (Penal Law § 220.03). On April 15, 1991, a jury acquitted him of the charge. As required by CPL 160.50, the trial judge sealed the records pertaining to the arrest and prosecution. On May 29, 1991, the petitioner board of education commenced disciplinary proceedings against respondent pursuant to Education Law §§ 2590-j(7)(b) and 3020-a, charging him with the same misconduct as alleged in the unsuccessful criminal prosecution.

The board brought the instant application on January 21, 1992 in Supreme Court for an order unsealing the criminal court records as well as releasing the prosecutor's file and the physical evidence. Supreme Court granted the board's application, concluding that despite the lack of specific statutory power it had inherent discretionary power to unseal records "in extraordinary circumstances in the interests of fairness and justice", citing Matter of Dondi (63 NY2d 331, 338) and Matter of Hynes v Karassik (47 NY2d 659, 664-665). The court held that the board had "demonstrated a compelling need to unseal the records because it cannot obtain the information elsewhere and it needs the records to conduct the disciplinary proceeding". The Appellate Division affirmed unanimously on the authority of Matter of Dondi , noting that "without an unsealing of criminal records, the ends of protecting the public through investigation and possible discipline * * * cannot be accomplished." (188 AD2d 319). We granted leave to appeal.


Criminal Procedure Law 160.50 was enacted in 1976 in the same reform legislation that added a provision to the Human Rights Law (now Executive Law § 296[16]) making it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, in connection with the employment of an individual, to inquire about or act adversely on any prior criminal accusation which had terminated in the employee's favor. The purpose in adding these provisions to the Criminal Procedure Law and the Human Rights Law was to ensure that the protections provided to exonerated accuseds be "consistent with the presumption of innocence, which simply means that no individual should suffer adverse consequences merely on the basis of an accusation, unless the charges were ultimately sustained in a court of law" (Governor's Approval Mem, 1976 McKinney's Session Laws of NY, at 2451). As we noted in ):

Indeed, the over-all scheme of the enactments demonstrates that the legislative objective was to remove any 'stigma' flowing from an accusation of criminal conduct terminated in favor of the accused, thereby affording protection (i.e., the presumption of innocence) to such accused in the pursuit of employment, education, professional licensing and insurance opportunities (see, People v Anderson , 97 Misc 2d 408) (id., at 716).

To effectuate this purpose, Criminal Procedure Law 160.50 employs language that is mandatory. Upon termination of a criminal action in favor of an accused, the section provides that the record of such action "shall be sealed" (160.50 [1]); that all photographs, palmprints and fingerprints "shall forthwith be returned to such person" (160.50[1][a]); that any agency which may have transmitted copies of such photographs, palmprints, or fingerprints to an agency of another jurisdiction "shall forthwith formally request [their return]" (160.50[1][b]); and that all official records and papers relating to the arrest or prosecution "on file with the division of criminal justice services, any court, police agency, or prosecutor's office shall be sealed and not made available to any person or public or private agency" (160.50[1][c]) [emphasis added].

After a sealing order issues, CPL 160.50(1)(d) specifies a few instances when the sealed records may be released to specified categories of persons or agencies, viz., to a prosecutor in a criminal proceeding involving marijuana in which the accused has moved for adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (subpara [i]); to a law enforcement agency on a showing that justice requires such release (subpara [ii]); to an agency acting on an application made by the accused for a gun license (subpara [iii]); to the New York state division of parole, under certain conditions, when the accused is on parole (subpara [iv]); to a prospective employer in connection with an employment application of an accused for a position as a police officer or peace officer (subpara [v]); and to the probation department responsible for supervision of the accused when the arrest subject to the inquiry occurred while the accused was under such supervision (subpara [vi]).

These exceptions in CPL 160.50(1)(d) have been characterized as "narrowly defined" ( Matter of Hynes v Karassik , 47 NY2d 659, 663). Indeed, in Karassik , we construed the statute strictly and held that none of the exceptions could justify making sealed records available to assist a grievance committee in determining whether to bring professional disciplinary charges against a lawyer (id., at 663; see, Patterson, supra, at 714 [finding "no authorization in [CPL 160.50] for the use in a law enforcement agency's investigatory procedure of a photograph retained in violation thereof"]; Dondi , supra, at 338 [restating rule in Karassik that a grievance committee "has no standing under CPL 160.50 to seek an order to obtain records sealed pursuant to that provision as it does not constitute a 'law enforcement agency'"]; see also, Matter of Skyline Inn Corp. , 44 NY2d 695, 696 [refusing to make exception to the Human Rights Law provision (now Executive Law § 296 [15]) to permit State Liquor Authority to consider dismissed criminal charge against licensee seeking a renewal] and supra note).

Despite the statute's mandatory language, its evident intent to limit the exceptions to persons or groups having some association with law enforcement problems, and the legislative recognition of the importance of protecting individuals from having dismissed criminal charges considered in connection with their employment, the board would have us construe the statute as including an exception for teacher disciplinary proceedings. This we decline to do. Suffice it say that if the Legislature had intended to create such an exception - - one which, unlike the other exceptions, would have no law enforcement association -- it would have done so (see generally, McKinney's Cons Laws of NY, Book 1, Statutes § 240 "Expression of one thing as excluding others"). Moreover, such a holding would be contrary to our decisions (see, Patterson , supra, at 714; Dondi , supra, at 338; Karassik , supra, at 663).

The board argues alternatively that the unsealing order should be sustained, not as a proper exercise of power conferred by the statute, but as an exercise of "an inherent power to unseal records when justice demands, whether or not there is specific statutory authority" (Res. Br., at 15 [emphasis added]). The board relies on our suggestion in Karassik , supra, at 664-665, later endorsed in Dondi , "that in 'extraordinary circumstances' the Appellate Division may exercise its discretion, pursuant to inherent authority over records and its oversight and disciplinary power over attorneys and counselors at law, to permit the unsealing of criminal records" ( Dondi , supra, at 338).

But Dondi and Karassik do not support the board's argument. In Dondi , we based our conclusion that the Appellate Division had inherent power to obtain sealed records pertaining to attorneys on Judiciary Law § 90(2). This section specifically vests the Appellate Division with the responsibility for overseeing and disciplining attorneys. But the Appellate Division has been granted no comparable power as to teachers who are subject to disciplinary hearings not by the court system but by the boards of education under the Education Law (see, e.g., Education Law §§ 2590-j, 3020-a). Absent such a specific grant of power, a holding that the court has inherent authority to order the unsealing of records for use in a teacher disciplinary proceeding would frustrate a primary purpose of the 1976 amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law and the Human Rights Law (L 1976 c 877) -- protecting exonerated individuals from the unwarranted stigma that their employers or others could attach to dismissed criminal charges (see, Patterson, supra, at 714; Matter of Skyline Inn, supra, at 696; supra, note).

Moreover, finding such an "inherent power" basis for an unsealing order here would subvert the plain intendment of the statutory scheme -- to establish, in unequivocal mandatory language, a general proscription against releasing sealed records and materials, subject only to a few narrow exceptions. If there is to be an exception to the general rule proscribing the release of sealed records -- upon a showing of "extraordinary circumstances" ( Dondi , supra, at 338) of the type alleged here -- it should be created by the Legislature, not by the courts.

Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Division should be reversed, with costs, and the application to unseal denied.


* L 1976, c 877; the amendment to the Human Rights Law was adopted as subdivision 14 to section 296 of the Executive Law and renumbered as subdivision 16 (L 1980, c 689). In pertinent part it provides that it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for "any person, agency, bureau, corporation or association * * * to make any inquiry about * * * or to act upon adversely to the individual involved, any arrest or criminal accusation of such individual * * * [which was terminated in his favor] in connection with the licensing, employment or providing of credit or insurance to such individual" (see, Matter of Skyline Inn Corp. v New York State Liq. Auth. , 44 NY2d 695, 696 [holding that it was unlawful for the State Liquor Authority to consider a dismissed criminal charge against licensee in disapproving liquor license renewal applications]).

Order reversed, with costs, and application to unseal denied. Opinion by Judge Hancock. Chief Judge Kaye and Judges Simons, Titone, Bellacosa, Smith and Levine concur.

NY Daily News: Mayor Bloomberg Was "Pigheaded" When Naming Cathie Black As Chancellor

 Pigheaded Mayor Bloomberg made ill-informed choice when naming Cathie Black as schools chancellor
Adam Lisberg

Cathie Black and her husband, Tom Harvey

Mayor Bloomberg doesn't mind picking a fight. But after nine years in office, he should have learned to pick his battles.

He has famously tried - and failed - to build a West Side football stadium, charge tolls into lower Manhattan and turn the Kingsbridge Armory into a huge shopping center.

There was no shame in those losses, though. No matter what you thought of them, they were legitimate ideas with solid backing that deserved a hearing.

Trying to put a magazine executive in charge of the city schools is a different story.

Bloomberg may have been the only person in New York who didn't see a downside in naming Cathie Black to be schools chancellor.

"He was thinking about an out-of-the-box candidate who would carry on Joel Klein's legacy and be sort of a maverick," said consultant George Arzt, a longtime student of New York mayors.

"I'm sure in his mind he thinks that this is right for the city," Arzt said. "But there were no other candidates interviewed - and it showed."

Even Black's supporters knew a boarding-school mom with a corporate résumé would be a tough sell, no matter how strong a manager she is.

Bloomberg's inner circle could have told him that - had he bothered to tell them about Black before he made up his mind.

"He went into this by himself, and in fact it was revealed that the emperor had no clothes," said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio.

The mayor's team could have quietly reached out to state Education Commissioner David Steiner to see how he would react, or to at least give him an early heads-up.

Instead, the aides who get paid to build support for his controversial ideas - like lifting the charter school cap or extending term limits - were playing defense from the start.

Public school parents understood the problem of a boss with no experience, and 62% of them told a Quinnipiac University poll they didn't want Black.

Bloomberg thinks he knows better - but six of eight experts on the state education commissioner's panel agreed with the parents.

Three years ago, the mayor said, "I have always joked that [the difference between] having the courage of your convictions and being pigheaded is in the results."

The results are in. As he looks to salvage Black's nomination, he should look in the mirror, too.

UFT Resolution In Support of the Black Appointment

UFT Resolution Calls for New Schools Chancellor Process
Billy Wharton, NY Eaminer

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is treading lightly in the debate over Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s appointment of Cathie Black as Schools Chancellor. While rank-and-file teachers are outraged at the move because of Black’s lack of qualifications and Bloomberg’s secretive process, the union has had a relatively low profile. Quite a contrast with educator Justin Wedes' petition effort, which has accumulated more than 10,000 signatures and asks New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner to veto Bloomberg’s waiver request for Black.

The following UFT memo maps out a path for the selection of Schools Chancellor in the future, but does not call for a more democratic process. The choice would still be made by an appointment, although the UFT process would require the appointee to present themselves publicly. However, in a city with so few directly elected officials, calling for and eventually creating a fully democratic procedure for selection would be a refreshing change.

Here is the text of the UFT resolution:

WHEREAS in order to lead New York City public schools and ensure that all students receive the quality education to which they are entitled, a chancellor should have a full and thorough understanding of teaching and learning, a solid grasp of education issues and concerns and practical experience as an educator to appreciate the impact of policy choices and administrative directives on the real world of schools and classrooms; and

WHEREAS in recognition of the value of educational knowledge and experience to the office, New York State education law requires that a chancellor possess (a) certification in educational leadership; (b) a Masters’ Degree; and (c) a minimum of three years of teaching experience; and

WHEREAS New York State education law further permits the State Education Commissioner to provide a waiver for a non-educator to be chancellor if that individual possesses other “exceptional qualifications;” and

WHEREAS the process by which a non-educator is granted a waiver to become chancellor must be deliberate, thorough and credible if that individual’s tenure in that office is to be considered legitimate by educators, parents, local communities and the general public; and

WHEREAS by conducting his selection process for the chancellor in secret, and withholding from the public the most basic information on that process, Mayor Bloomberg has thwarted the intent of mayoral control of New York City schools, and created a controversy which ill serves New York City public schools;

WHEREAS in response to the nomination of a non-educator for the office of chancellor, New York State Education Commission David Steiner has announced the formation of an independent panel, including educators, to evaluate the request for a waiver and make a non-binding recommendation to him; therefore be it

RESOLVED that the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) support the process established by State Education Commissioner David Steiner as a credible and fair procedure for deciding on the request for a waiver from the qualifications for chancellor of New York City public schools promulgated in state education law; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United Federation of Teachers support legislation to reform the process for the selection of the Chancellor, making it open and transparent, with the following features: (a) a nationwide search to attract the most qualified candidates, (b) a full and systematic vetting of the short list of the final candidates; and (c) a public process of engagement for the final candidates.

NY State Ed Commissioner Caves In To NYC Mayor Bloomberg And Says OK To Chancellor Cathie Black

In what may be the single most outrageous opposition to public demand seen in recent United States history, New York State Department of Education David Steiner says "yes" to the waiver for noneducator Cathie Black, at the insistence of NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Cathie Black in as schools chancellor; deputy named
By YOAV GONEN, NY POST, 7:19 PM, November 26, 2010

She's in.

City and state officials reached a deal today to allow Hearst Magazines chairwoman Cathie Black to become the city’s next schools chancellor, an official with knowledge of the agreement told The Post.

As part of the agreement, veteran educator Shael Polakow-Suransky will serve as her second-in-command as the city's first-ever chief academic officer.


The deal stemmed from an offer from State Education Commissioner David Steiner earlier this week that sought a middle-ground to either denying or approving a waiver for Black — a publishing executive who lacks the education credentials required of superintendents in New York.

Mayor Bloomberg made it clear he supported the arrangement by submitting a new waiver request letter for Black yesterday that included her intention to appoint Polakow-Suransky her "senior deputy chancellor and chief academic officer."

The letter says Polakow-Suransky would be directly supervised by Black, but with "the broadest scope for the exercise of independent initiative and judgment."

Polakow-Suransky is a longtime city educator who has worked as a middle school teacher, founder and principal of a high school as well as chief academic officer for a subset of schools.

"This is the product of extensive discussions between the state and the city to address the concerns the commisioner raised and the feel is that it substantially addresses those concerns," a senior State Education Department official told The Post.

But the deal may not quiet many of the critics of Black’s appointment, who have objected to a non-educator running the nation’s largest public schools system.

November 26, 2010
Deal for Deputy for Academics Clears Way for Schools Chief

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg reached a deal Friday to save the tottering candidacy of Cathleen P. Black to be the next chancellor of New York City schools, agreeing to appoint a career educator who started as a classroom teacher to serve as her second in command.

As a result, the state education commissioner, David M. Steiner, has agreed to grant Ms. Black, a media executive, the exemption from the normal credentials required by state law for the position, according to a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

The move was a significant concession by Mr. Bloomberg, who has often resisted efforts from outside City Hall to meddle in his affairs.

The mayor’s hand was forced on Tuesday when Dr. Steiner questioned her readiness for the position. Ms. Black, the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, has spent a lifetime in the media business, does not hold any advanced degrees and has had little exposure to public schools.

The controversy over Ms. Black, 66, had become a liability for Mr. Bloomberg, and a poll released on Tuesday showed that a majority of New Yorkers did not think Ms. Black was qualified to serve as chancellor.

After several days of talks with state officials, Mr. Bloomberg agreed to create the position of chief academic officer to oversee curriculum and testing at the city’s Department of Education. Under the deal, that job would go to Shael Polakow-Suransky, a former principal of a Bronx high school who is a top official at the city’s Department of Education.

But exactly how much authority Mr. Polakow-Suransky, 38, will wield is unclear. A job description prepared by the city said he would have “the broadest scope for the exercise of independent initiative and judgment” and listed 25 duties, including many that would normally fall to the head of a school system. But Mr. Polakow-Suransky will still report to Ms. Black, who is accustomed to setting the agenda in the rough-and-tumble world of corporate culture.

Ms. Black and Mr. Polakow-Suransky have met several times over the past week to discuss how they will divide authority.

Ms. Black is scheduled to take office Jan. 1 after the resignation of the current chancellor, Joel I. Klein. She will oversee the nation’s largest school system, with 1.1 million children, 135,000 employees and 1,600 schools.

Natalie Ravitz, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said on Friday, “As an experienced C.E.O., Ms. Black recognized the need to have a senior deputy with specific expertise in academic matters.”

Dr. Steiner, who declined to comment on Friday, is expected to announce his approval of a waiver on Monday. On Friday, Mr. Bloomberg submitted a letter making the case for Ms. Black and her new deputy. A mayoral spokesman declined to comment but did not dispute the details of the agreement. Mr. Polakow-Suransky did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Merryl H. Tisch, the chancellor of the State Board of Regents, who played a central role in brokering the deal, also declined to comment. Referring to the position of chief academic officer earlier in the week, she said, “The issue for us is, ‘Can we create credibility around this position?’ ”

The deal reached Friday capped a week of frantic talks between the city and the state. Mr. Bloomberg, who was given control of city schools in 2002, has said that transforming the school system will define his legacy as mayor.

Mr. Bloomberg viewed Dr. Steiner’s challenge as a critical test of his authority over the school system. The mayor told people involved in the negotiations that a rejection of Ms. Black would undermine the model of mayoral control and set a dangerous precedent.

At one point while the negotiations were under way, Mr. Bloomberg said publicly that the law requiring the schools chancellor to hold education credentials was obsolete and should be abolished.

Mr. Bloomberg had initially believed he could build enough public pressure to force Dr. Steiner to approve Ms. Black, according to the person with knowledge of the negotiations. Business executives, former mayors and celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg flooded Dr. Steiner’s offices with messages in support of Ms. Black.

But Dr. Steiner remained skeptical, and he said on Tuesday he would consider her appointment only if Mr. Bloomberg installed an educator at her side.

The talks with the mayor about that possibility grew more serious after an eight-member panel advising Dr. Steiner on Ms. Black’s qualifications on Tuesday mustered only two votes unconditionally in support of her, unexpectedly throwing the selection process into disarray.

Mr. Bloomberg typically loathes intrusions into his management of the city. But throughout the negotiations for the waiver, he showed an unusual willingness to compromise to preserve Ms. Black’s candidacy. To the surprise of his own associates, he held his tongue in public, refusing to challenge Dr. Steiner and the panel that rebuked his choice for chancellor.

The reaction to the deal, and to Mr. Polakow-Suransky’s appointment, was mixed on Friday.

State Assemblyman Hakeem S. Jeffries, a Democrat who has helped coordinate the opposition to Ms. Black, said he would pursue a legal challenge, arguing that the appointment of a chief academic officer does not compensate for Ms. Black’s lack of educational experience.

Sol Stern, an education researcher at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative research group, said he thought that the deal was a victory for Mr. Bloomberg, and that Mr. Polakow-Suransky’s appointment would not be a serious check to Ms. Black’s authority. “He will be treated by the mayor and Black as a gofer,” Mr. Stern, a frequent critic of the mayor, wrote in an e-mail. “This is a farce.”

Underscoring the high-stakes nature of Ms. Black’s fate, even the federal secretary of education, Arne Duncan, spoke to both Dr. Steiner and Mr. Bloomberg during the negotiations.

On Friday, Mr. Duncan praised the outcome. “Can anyone do this alone? Of course not,” he said. “This is a monumentally tough, complex organization.”

Michael Barbaro contributed reporting.

The Man With Credentials To Complement the New Boss’s
 FERNANDA SANTOS, NY TIMES, Published: November 26, 2010

But if his selection to be the department’s chief academic officer offers any hint of the direction of the city’s schools, one thing seems certain: Mr. Polakow-Suransky will continue the same kind of data-driven reform embraced by Joel I. Klein, whom Ms. Black is expected to succeed as the city’s schools chancellor.

As the system’s second-in-command, he will oversee teaching, learning and accountability, which is where much of his experience at the Education Department has been centered.

After James S. Liebman, the architect of the city’s test-score-based accountability methods, left the department last year, Mr. Polakow-Suransky took over, carrying on the system that tracks student performance in minute detail and the A-through-F report cards through which teacher bonuses are granted and failing schools are tagged for closing.

In an interview, Mr. Liebman called Mr. Polakow-Suransky “very much a systemic thinker and a very good manager and implementer of ideas,” but also someone who is aware of the way changes affect principals, teachers and students.

Aaron Pallas, a professor of education at Teachers College of Columbia University and a frequent critic of the accountability system, said that while Mr. Polakow-Suransky’s tenure as a teacher and a principal lend him credibility, his years as part of Mr. Klein’s inner circle “will leave other people skeptical that he can show independence.”

Mr. Polakow-Suransky, 38, spent six years teaching math in middle school and high school in Manhattan before becoming assistant principal at Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School in Harlem. In 2001, he became founding principal of Bronx International High School, a dare-you-to-beat-the-odds school for poor immigrant students, which went on to receive some of the best scores among peer institutions in the city.

He was born in South Africa, where his parents were anti-apartheid activists who fled in 1973 and settled in Michigan. He is widowed — his wife died of breast cancer last year — and has no children.

His younger brother, Sasha, said that the struggles of the apartheid regime shaped their childhood and Mr. Polakow-Suransky’s years in public high school in Ann Arbor. He organized a survey about racism in the school district, then founded a group to fight racism through workshops for sixth and seventh graders.

“He has been very passionate about education and equality since those days,” Sasha Polakow-Suransky, an editor at Foreign Affairs, said in an interview.

Shael Polakow-Suransky has a bachelor’s degree in education and urban studies from Brown University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Bank Street College of Education. In 2008, he was a fellow at the Broad Superintendents Academy, a training program founded by the philanthropist Eli Broad that has been a catalyst for the new wave of education reformists. He also has helped oversee the creation of a number of small high schools, another of Mr. Klein’s signature policies.

A version of this article appeared in print on November 27, 2010, on page A15 of the New York edition.

From Betsy Combier: Nat Hentoff got it right in 2003, I think:

For the Children—Klein Should Resign
Where Was the UFT? And the Principals’ Union?
by Nat Hentoff, tuesday, Sept. 9, 2003

In every child who is born, under no matter what circumstances, and of no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again. —James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Public education is each and every American's birthright. —Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, PBS, September 30, 2002

At a Stan Kenton record date years ago, I watched a trombonist who kept hitting clinkers on his solo. It went on for some 12 takes, and he never did get it right. That memory of invincible incompetence came to mind as I was reviewing the series of damagingly false notes Chancellor Joel Klein has hit since he took office heralding "Children First: A New Agenda for Public Education in New York City." Klein was the choice of our chronically self-satisfied mayor, who pledged when campaigning, and ever since, that his administration must be judged on what the public schools will be like when he comes up for re-election.

So much further harm has been done to this city's long-failing system by Bloomberg's crucial first mistake—bringing in Klein—that the chancellor should resign before more damage is done. But he is not likely to be gone until and unless there is a new mayor, and I expect that aspirants eyeing City Hall are keeping a detailed account of the Bloomberg-Klein team's serial record of misjudgments.

I will not focus here on Klein's ingeniously confusing changes in the reading and math curricula. James Traub has already clearly and devastatingly illuminated how Klein's choices guarantee more dropouts by teachers as well as students in the Education Life supplement of the August 3 New York Times ("New York's New Approach"). See also the valuable Sol Stern's "Bloomberg and Klein Rush In," City Journal, spring 2003.

As for the Bloomberg-Klein enthusiasm for the all-gay high school, segregation ineluctably leads to further stigmatization. Thurgood Marshall knew that. Moreover, to relieve the school system of accountability for the bullying and other cruel harassment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students—including the many who will be left behind and unprotected anyway in the city's schools—reveals how simplistically myopic the mayor and chancellor are.

Relentless pressure should be on the principals who don't stop this viciousness. When I was covering Frank Macchiarola during his chancellorship, I went with him when he became principal of a high school for some time so he could find out what was going on in the trenches. Put principals like Frank in the high schools now, and there'd be no need for an all-gay school. A principal who cannot end bigotry of any kind in a school should be removed.

But the chief indictment of Klein's chancellorship was displayed for all to see in the July 31 and August 1 New York Times front-page stories "To Cut Failure Rate, Schools Shed Students" and "High School Under Scrutiny for Giving Up on Its Students."

The ever vigilant Carl Campanile of the New York Post broke the pushout story last November 9. The Times should enter its pieces by Tamar Lewin and Jennifer Medina for a Pulitzer, and the Post should submit Campanile's reporting as well.

I hope there will be further and frequent team reporting in the Times on what Klein—as long as he's supposedly in charge—is going to do about this pernicious and pervasive "pushout" educational malpractice that can place so many youngsters in quicksand for the rest of their lives.

And this discarding of students is also a severe test of such civil rights organizations as the NAACP and the Urban League. They ought to be conducting their own investigations of the many thousands of students being pushed out of this city's public schools because their scores make the principals' and superintendents' records look bad. Is the Urban League protecting alumnus Dennis Walcott, now at Bloomberg's side? Great credit is due Advocates for Children of New York for filing a lawsuit on this betrayal of kids—and for calling attention to this and other malpractices in the system.

What the Times series reported in harrowing detail—including testimonies by pushouts—is that "growing numbers of students—most of them struggling academically—are being pushed out of New York City's school system and classified under bureaucratic categories that hide their failure to graduate." And "students [are being] shunted out at ever-younger ages."

I heard anecdotal evidence about the pushouts last October from Noreen Connell, executive director of the Educational Priorities Panel, but Klein was silent about this disastrous covert policy until the Times series forced his hand. Now he has told the Times (July 31) that he's going to do something about it because "you're never going to change the system unless you're brutally candid."

To be brutally candid, there is this report in the same issue of the Times: "On June 30 [Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum] wrote to Mr. Klein to express 'strong concern' over the high school discharge tracking system recounting her office's request last September for a breakdown of high school discharges, which was forthcoming only after a nine-month delay—and then yielded what she said was inadequate information." (Emphasis added.) Gotbaum estimates 160,000 pushouts between 1998 and 2001.

How could Joel Klein not have known? He also didn't know about the Advocates for Children lawsuit filed in January? He didn't know that the pushouts and their parents were not being told that under New York state law, students have the right to remain in school until they are 21?

Klein, of course, is not the only one who must be held strictly accountable. Where were the United Federation of Teachers and its members, as well as the principals? Are they still targeting pushouts?

Parents and others concerned with the future of the city should get "Pushing Out At-Risk Students: An Analysis of High School Discharge Figures," a report by Gotbaum and Advocates for Children. Also, the court papers in the series of class-action lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, by Advocates for Children of New York (151 West 30th Street, fifth floor, New York, NY 10001; 212-947-9779 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 212-947-9779 end_of_the_skype_highlighting). They truly are advocates!

The Times should make the pushout series—with testimonies from some of the pushouts—available in pamphlet form, and, if possible, free. That'll more than make up for Jayson Blair.

On August 3, Daily News columnist E.R. Shipp reported that Mayor Bloomberg, speaking to educators in Queens, said: "The best is yet to come." He is his own blackout. To be continued, including a smoking gun the Times left out.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Angry Speech Can Be Disqualifying Misconduct For Unemployment Insurance Purposes

New York State Law Reporting Bureau

Matter of Messado v. Commissioner of Labor, ___A.D___3d (3d Dep't. August 4, 2010), stands for the proposition that confronting co-employees in any angry manner can be disqualifying misconduct for unemployment insurance purposes. As the court explained:

Threatening behavior toward a coworker has been held to constitute disqualifying misconduct (see Matter of Perkins [Commissioner of Labor], 16 AD3d 756, 756 [2005]; Matter of Rothstein [Commissioner of Labor], 306 AD2d 789, 789 [2003]). In the case at hand, two of the coworkers present at the restaurant testified that claimant approached them in an angry manner, told a male coworker that if he had anything to say about him to say it to his [*2]face and used vulgar language. They further stated that, before leaving the restaurant, claimant proceeded to challenge the male coworker to a fight. Both of these coworkers indicated that they were intimidated by claimant and feared for their safety. Their testimony was consistent with that of the supervisor to whom they reported the incident who further stated that claimant had engaged in similar confrontational behavior toward other employees for which he had been warned. Claimant himself admitted that he confronted the trio in the restaurant and used vulgar language, although he denied challenging the male coworker to a fight. To the extent that claimant's testimony was in conflict with the testimony of the other witnesses, this presented a credibility issue for the Board to resolve (see Matter of Rothstein [Commissioner of Labor], 306 AD2d at 790). In view of the foregoing, substantial evidence supports the Board's finding that claimant engaged in disqualifying misconduct.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Matter of Perkins (Commissioner of Labor)

2005 NY Slip Op 01600 [16 AD3d 756]
March 3, 2005

Appellate Division, Third Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
As corrected through Wednesday, May 18, 2005

In the Matter of the Claim of Milford C. Perkins, Appellant. Commissioner of Labor, Respondent.

Appeal from a decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, filed February 11, 2004, which disqualified claimant from receiving unemployment insurance benefits because his employment was terminated due to misconduct.

Claimant worked as a nursing assistant at a nursing home until he was terminated in September 2003. His discharge was precipitated by a verbal altercation he had with a registered nurse during which he made threatening comments. The Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board disqualified claimant from receiving unemployment insurance benefits on the ground that his employment was terminated due to misconduct. He now appeals.

We affirm. We note that threatening conduct toward a coworker has been held to constitute misconduct disqualifying one from receiving unemployment insurance benefits (see Matter of Livadas [Commissioner of Labor], 3 AD3d 656, 656 [2004]; Matter of Mears [Commissioner of Labor], 308 AD2d 627, 627 [2003]). Here, claimant admitted that he became involved in an argument with the nurse over the use of a copy machine. Although he maintained that the nurse threatened him by stating that she was going to get him, the nurse indicated that claimant threatened her by telling her to watch her back and car. Inasmuch as the conflicting account of the incident presented an issue of credibility for the Board to resolve (see Matter of Rothstein [Commissioner of Labor], 306 AD2d 789, 790 [2003]; Matter of Shaw [Commissioner of Labor], 302 AD2d 655 [2003]), we find no reason to disturb its decision.

Cardona, P.J., Crew III, Peters, Mugglin and Kane, JJ., concur. Ordered that the decision is affirmed, without costs.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Almost Chancellor: Dan Domenech

Almost Chancellor

Alezander Russo, Huffington Post, November 23, 2010

Remembering the man who was -- almost -- Chancellor of the New York City public school system, and -- with apologies for the self-indulgence -- my brief and deeply unproductive foray at the old Board of Education.

A small but vocal group is trying block the proposed appointment of media executive Cathie Black as head of the New York City school system, most immediately by convincing a group appointed by the state education commissioner to deny Black the legal waiver she needs in order to make up for her lack of formal training in education. It's a post-Waiting For 'Superman', pre-holiday referendum on Mayor Bloomberg's influence and the current state of education reform all wrapped into one.

As of this moment, nobody knows for sure whether Black will make it through this last hurdle, or how she'll do on the job. But if she ends up not getting the job it won't be the first time. You've probably already heard about the state's refused to give Robert F. Wagner a waiver after Mayor Koch nominated him in 1983. But there's another example that's worth remembering: a local guy named Dan Domenech got -- and lost -- the job in a 24 hour period in late September 1995. The day Domenech was supposed to become NYC schools chancellor I was there in the building, a special assistant to chancellor Ramon (Ray) Cortines, whom Domenech was going to replace.

Hard as it may be for any but the oldsters among us to remember, these were the days of a semi-autonomous Board of Education still headquartered at 110 Livingston Street, an infamously soul-sucking building in downtown Brooklyn (that's since been turned into condos). This was way before legislators had given the schools over to the Mayor, and well before the current era during which school reform has become "cool" (according to The Atlantic's Peter Osnos). In 1995, Chicago was the only big city to have mayoral control -- and the chancellor was still picked by board members, a majority of them appointed by the borough presidents rather than the mayor.

But that didn't mean that Mayor Giuliani didn't covet control over the schools and wasn't already engaged in battle with the floundering system. Cortines, the courtly superintendent from California, was leaving with only two years under his belt, worn down by the incessant constant criticism from City Hall (and, though Ray would never say it, the lack of adequate political insulation provided to him by the Board). Former MTA head Richard Ravitch had momentarily emerged as a Mayoral favorite to replace Cortines only to withdraw his name from consideration in apparent disgust with the selection process and the byzantine governance system he'd have to operate under. Kingsborough Community College president Leon Goldstein was a front-runner but then came under a cloud of suspicion.

Eventually, Domenech emerged as the top pick remaining. Confident and accomplished, the Cuban-born Suffolk County (LI) superintendent had grown up near the Board headquarters and had begun his career teaching sixth grade in Queens. Over and over again, he reassured the board that he would have no trouble standing up to the mayor -- a line of questioning that would later prove ironic. On a Friday evening at the end of September, the board offered him the job at a meeting in the World Trade Center, news of which was reported the next morning. The formal vote was scheduled to take place that evening at 110 Livingston Street, during an emergency meeting that many thought would be nothing more than an anointment.

Though Cortines himself was not there that day, I was in the building still serving as one of Cortines' special assistants. He had offered me the job then announced his resignation just before I was scheduled to start. Still, I came -- I was desperate to do something more exciting than working for a junior Democratic Senator (California's Dianne Feinstein) with little interest in education issues (during a Republican-controlled Congress bent on enacting its "Contract With America"). But it had been a miserable experience working for a lame duck appointee in a building full of -- yes, I'll say it -- "Dickensian" characters like you only meet in the cubicles of massive bureaucracies. At 31, I might well have been the youngest college-educated person on the 10th floor. I missed having Internet access from my desktop. I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself for having moved up to New York City for a job that had, suddenly, become very short-term.

The day of the official vote, Domenech arrived early with his wife and eldest son and they spent much of the day biding their time in an empty conference room on the tenth floor even as rumors spread that City Hall was working to sway board members and block the appointment. I remember seeing him and his family, all dressed up, thinking that somehow he must not know that the tide was turning against him. Otherwise why would he bother to wait? But that's what he did, and then when things finally got started he and his family walked in and sat in the front row of the board meeting room, surrounded by cameras and reporters, directly facing the board members. I watched from the back with a pit in my stomach as the board members entered and voted 4-3 against him.

Of course, Domenech knew what was likely to happen that day. He'd begun getting phone calls from board members since the night before telling him that they were under pressure from City Hall and would have to vote against him. He didn't think his presence would make a difference. "I felt like I needed to see the process through," says Domenech, now head of the national association of school administrators. "I wasn't ashamed of what was happening."

A week after its stunning reversal, the board picked Rudy Crew from Tacoma, Washington, professionally indistinguishable from Domenech though he would be the city's first black chancellor in six years. A few weeks later I packed up my belongings in a box and slunk out the front door of the building, eventually heading back to Washington with little to show for my time in New York except a leather jacket and a nasty smoking habit. Domenech went back to Suffolk County and then two years later got the job as head of the Fairfax County public schools near DC. Crew served as Chancellor for nearly five years. Cortines is now head of the LA public schools.

Alexander Russo is a freelance writer who loves education so much he has three education blogs -- This Week In Education for national news, District299 for Chicago school news, and Hot For Education for the intersection of pop culture and education. Stray Dogs, Saints, and Saviors, his book about a school turnaround effort in South Central LA, is coming out in April.

Follow Alexander Russo on Twitter:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cathie Black and Her Coke Connection

A closer look at new schools chancellor Cathie Black's resume shows troubling link to Coca-Cola

JUAN GONZALEZ, NY Daily News, November 17, 2010

It is bad enough that magazine executive and Park Avenue socialite Cathie Black, Mayor Bloomberg's choice to run our school system, has zero experience with public education.

Her business résumé that Bloomberg keeps touting also deserves close scrutiny.

For most of the past 17 years, Black sat on the board of directors of Coca-Cola. Last year alone, the soft drink giant paid her $195,000 compensation in cash and stock for attending 10 board meetings.

During much of that time, Coke's human rights record and its marketing tactics to children in Latin America have generated major controversy.

Former city Controller William Thompson and the city's public pension funds twice confronted the company about its practices.

In 2005 and 2006, they forced votes on shareholder resolutions calling for an independent investigation of allegations that Coca-Cola colluded in anti-union violence in Colombia.

After several murders of union members at Coke bottling affiliates in Colombia, union leaders there filed a $500 million civil suit against the company in Miami Federal Court.

They claimed plant managers routinely called in death squads to terrorize their members. A PBS "Frontline" report later found attacks had occurred inside the plants with the knowledge of local supervisors.

As a member of the company's public issues and diversity committee, Black was well aware of the allegations.

She and her fellow board members fought off the shareholder resolutions by assuring investors that Coke's own internal review had shown that "allegations the bottlers engaged paramilitaries to intimidate trade unionists are false."

The Colombian suit was eventually dismissed on a technicality, but a Coca-Cola boycott campaign has been slowly spreading to scores of colleges across the country.

Among the local schools that dumped Coke supply contracts are Rutgers, Manhattanville, State University at Stony Brook and Bard College.

This year, former Coca-Cola employees in Guatemala who were forced to flee their homeland filed suit against the company in New York.

Jose Armando Palacios and Jose Alberto Vicente Chavez say they were shot at and their families terrorized by armed men because of their involvement with a union at the Guatemalan plant.

Coca-Cola lawyers want to move the case from Manhattan Federal Court to Guatemala.

Meanwhile, Mexico's best-known consumer advocacy group, El Poder de los Consumidores, has repeatedly blasted Coca-Cola and other producers of high-sugar products for their marketing campaigns to that country's schoolchildren.

In the past two decades, consumption of soft drinks among Mexico's poor has increased by 60%, and the country now has one of the highest rates of Coca-Cola use in the world. Nearly 70% of Mexican adults are overweight or obese, and 10 million suffer from diabetes.

"If one product has contributed significantly to , it is the soft drink Coca-Cola," consumer advocate Alejandro Calvillo said recently.

When Bloomberg's aides finish tutoring Black on the ABC's of running a public school system and she finally begins talking in public, she should also explain how all those years as a director at Coca-Cola qualify her for this post.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bloomberg Asks His Friends To Convince Commissioner Steiner To Agree To A Waiver For Black

November 19, 2010
Panel on Pick for Schools Has Close Ties to Bloomberg

New York State’s top education official on Friday named an advisory panel of eight experts, at least half of them with strong connections to the Bloomberg administration, to help him decide whether to approve Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s controversial choice to run the city’s school system.

Three panelists selected by David M. Steiner, the state education commissioner, worked as senior officials at the city’s Department of Education.

One of those three now works at a foundation that was, for many years, the vehicle for Mr. Bloomberg’s personal charitable donations.

A fourth panelist is the head of a museum that has received almost half a million dollars from Mr. Bloomberg in donations since he took office.

The eight panelists share deep experience in the education field as academics and administrators. It is precisely the kind of experience that Mr. Bloomberg’s choice for chancellor, Cathleen P. Black, the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, lacks.

Mr. Steiner must decide whether to grant Ms. Black a waiver from state law requiring leaders of school districts to have substantial education credentials and experience.

Citing the prerogative of mayoral control over the schools, the Bloomberg administration has argued that she is a “visionary” with experience in managing large and unwieldy organizations, as well as a familiarity with dealing with customers who are not always happy.

But critics of Ms. Black’s selection, including many opposed to mayoral control in the first place, say that her appointment, which was a closely guarded secret until just minutes before the announcement on Nov. 9, demonstrates that Mr. Bloomberg is tone-deaf to the voices of parents and teachers who want an educator in the top spot.

The panel is scheduled to hold its first, and probably only, meeting on Tuesday in private in New York City. Education officials say that only the panelists, the commissioner and staff members will attend.

While it is not clear when Mr. Steiner will make his decision, many people expect that he will do so shortly after the Thanksgiving break, or well before Joel I. Klein, the current chancellor, departs at year’s end.

The chairwoman of the panel is Susan H. Fuhrman, the president of Teachers College at Columbia University. Three panelists are in charge of sizable urban school districts: Andrés A. Alonso, the chief executive of the Baltimore school system and a former deputy chancellor under Mr. Klein; Jean-Claude Brizard, the superintendent in Rochester and a New York City native who has been a teacher and principal and was a top aide to Mr. Klein; and Bernard P. Pierorazio, the Yonkers superintendent and a former top official at that city’s highly regarded Saunders Trades and Technical High School.

In an interview, Mr. Brizard said, that he would keep an open mind.

“I’m anxious to see Cathie Black’s credentials, and I’m interested to know what her vision is,” he said. “I don’t believe you need to be an educator, but you certainly need to understand what the goals are, and how the system works.”

The other panelists are: Ronald F. Ferguson, a Harvard economist who focuses on the achievement gap between minority students and white students; Kenneth G. Slentz, a top aide to Mr. Steiner at the State Education Department; Louise Mirrer, president and chief executive of the New-York Historical Society, which has received regular donations from Mr. Bloomberg, and a former top official at the City University of New York; and Michele Cahill, a vice president at the Carnegie Corporation of New York and a former senior educational policy adviser to Mr. Klein.

When asked about the panel, Stephan Ellenwood, chairman of the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Boston University and a former colleague of Mr. Steiner’s there, said that he would have expected more panelists to come from academia.

"I don’t know how he got this list,” Dr. Ellenwood said. “It surprises me. The membership of it seems quite uneven.”

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklyn Democrat who has long been critical of Mr. Bloomberg’s education policies, questioned the panel’s makeup, saying, “It appears that the deck has been stacked in favor of granting the waiver in a manner that will further undermine public confidence in the appointment of Ms. Black.”

But Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, the city teachers’ union, said, “All of these people have heavy-duty backgrounds and success in education, so obviously David Steiner is clearly looking at this from the educational side, as he should be.”

One panelist, Ms. Cahill, has personal experience with the waiver issue.

As one of Mr. Klein’s most trusted aides from 2002 to 2006, she played a crucial role in reorganizing the school system and developing new schools, and was the driving force behind new programs for students most at risk of dropping out. But in 2004, she was denied a state waiver to serve as deputy chancellor, because while she had a dozen years of teaching experience and a master’s degree in urban affairs, she lacked traditional education supervisory credentials.

She now works at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a philanthropic organization, as director of urban education, and said it was important to find someone to continue what Mr. Klein started.

“I think that the next chancellor of the school system has to present a commitment to the kind of reform that has resulted in the positive outcomes that have happened in New York City at this time,” she said.

She said she did not see her time working for Mr. Klein as a conflict. “People will assume what they want to,” she said. “I have a 40-year record on education. I have had many professional positions, and I have worked with more than 30 school districts throughout the country.”

Still, it was widely known that Mr. Bloomberg, until recently, made his charitable gifts to hundreds of arts and cultural groups through Carnegie.

But George Soule, a Carnegie spokesman, said Friday that “there was no intersection whatsoever” between Ms. Cahill and that money, which he described as having come from “an anonymous donor.”

Michael Barbaro contributed reporting.

Panel Of Bloomberg's Pals Will Advise Steiner on a Black Waiver

Mike Bloomberg's legacy will be that of finding a replacement for Joel Klein. He is very aware that he made an egregious error in not just hiring Joel Klein, but keeping him as long as he did.

I heard that Mike disliked Joel for more than a year, maybe more. However, firing Joel would mean that people would say Mike Bloomberg saw the error of hiring him in the first place. Mike Bloomberg never, never accepts error of anything he does or that looks like he will be held accountable for. So, Joel stayed, way past his time. Now Mike has three years to ram forwad his agenda in NYC's public school system, so I think we will be even less participative government in this area than ever before....if that is possible.

Mayor Bloomberg must get Cathie Black as schools chancellor if mayoral control means anything
NY Daily News Editorials, Sunday, November 21st 2010, 4:00 AM

Mayor Bloomberg has determined to place the futures of the city's 1.1 million public school kids in the hands of publishing executive Cathie Black. He made the call. Let's go with it.

Barring the unlikely emergence of a disqualifying disclosure, state Education Commissioner David Steiner should sanction Black's appointment as schools chancellor, and do so as quickly as possible.

While Black is highly accomplished, her selection by Bloomberg has generated predictable opposition from those who disagree with his school policies and, more widely, a sense of puzzlement.

The Daily News front page that reported the Black pick summed up the response with the word, "HUH?" over the question, "No education experience, kids went to private school - she's perfect to run our struggling schools! Right?"

Bloomberg is convinced she is. His opinion demands respect, given his track record in identifying talent and the fact that mayoral control of the schools means mayoral control of the schools.

Steiner has a say over Black's appointment because state law says superintendents must possess certain education credentials, while empowering the commissioner to waive the requirements.

The mayor applied for a waiver because Black spent her career not in the classroom or in the education bureaucracy, but in magazine and newspaper publishing, most recently at Hearst.

Concern over formal credentials is overblown. Some of the most important school reformers of the day, including departing Chancellor Joel Klein, are outsiders to the education world.

At the same time, if you go city by city across the country, you will not find a deep field of school superintendents who are gangbuster reformers and show the smarts to conquer New York.

Steiner will decide the fate of Black's appointment on the recommendation of an advisory panel. They all would do well to heed Bloomberg's desire to have in the job a top-notch manager who would be supported by education professionals.

The commissioner also well knows that Bloomberg put the city at the forefront of school reform in the state and across the nation before Steiner was appointed. The policies Bloomberg and Klein implemented then proved to be exactly in sync with Steiner's thinking. He needs the city's schools to stay in the lead if he is to succeed in his own job.

In effect, Bloomberg is asking for Steiner's trust. Based on what's at stake, the mayor needs it. Based on his record, he has earned it.

From Betsy Combier: I disagree with everything said in this editorial, especially in the last sentence where the NY Daily News writes that Mike Bloomberg has earned Steiner's trust. I believe that Steiner always trusted that Mike Bloomberg meant what he said, and said what he meant.

But why does anyone care if Mike has Steiner's trust? Why dont we care if Mike Bloomberg has earned the public, or stakeholder's trust?

Who Are The Panelists On Bloomberg's Advisory Committee For Steiner?

Updated 11/19/2010 11:42 PM
State Education Commissioner Selects Advisory Panel To Consider Black Waiver
By: Lindsey Christ, NY1

The head of the state Department of Education named on Friday an eight-member panel to screen publishing executive Cathie Black, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's selection for schools chancellor.

By law, the state education commissioner must grant a waiver to a chancellor candidate who does not have the experience required.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg sent State Education Commissioner David Steiner a request for that waiver that would allow Black to serve.

To help make the decision on whether to grant the exception, Steiner has convened a panel to be led by Dr. Susan Fuhrman, president of Teachers College. She has received tens of millions of dollars in city Department of Education contracts, including one worth $16 million signed this year.

Three of these eight panelists worked directly for outgoing Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, as some of his closest advisors.

Dr. Andres Alonso, who is currently the CEO of Baltimore's schools, served under Klein as the chief of staff and then deputy chancellor for teaching and learning.

Jean-Claude Brizard
Jean-Claude Brizard, superintendent of the Rochester City School District, served under Klein as a superintendent for three different city districts.

Michele Cahill of the Carnegie Corporation was Klein's senior policy counselor and a member of his leadership team responsible for reorganizing the entire system.

All three left Klein's administration in 2007.

Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New York Historical Society and former CUNY chancellor, is on the board of the Leadership Academy, which was founded by the mayor and outgoing chancellor.

Dr. Robert Ferguson
The other panelists are Dr. Ronald Ferguson, a professor at Harvard University; Bernard Pierorazio, superintendent of the Yonkers Public Schools; and Kenneth Slentz, associate commissioner for the Office of District Services for the New York State Education Department.

Bernard Pierorazio
There are no parents or parent representatives on the committee, which will likely spark criticism.

A spokesperson for the state DOE said the agency values the panelists' experience, saying, "Naturally, it was important to have panelists with New York City school system knowledge and experience."

Cahill also has personal experience with the waiver process. In 2004, Klein sought a waiver for Cahill to become a deputy chancellor, although she had little experience as an educator. The state turned him down.

When Klein was appointed to be chancellor, he also needed a waiver.

Steiner has not given a timeline for when the waiver process for Black will be completed.

Andres Alonso Alienates Baltimore Teachers
It took Andres Alonso about 2 minutes of leading the Baltimore school system to alienate the teacher union - following the Plan. Expect the same to happen in Washington with another Klein acolyte running things. Note that teachers are fighting back by refusing to work the extra hours. After working in NY as Klein's assistant, Alonso is unfamiliar with unions that aren't interested in collaborating.

City Teachers To Picket Over Planning Time

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore city school teachers concerned about their contracts are planning to set up what they call informational pickets. They said the goal of the picketing is to put pressure on the administration to sign on the dotted line. City teachers agreed over the summer to work only those hours called for in the contract, refusing to take part in before- and after-school activities. The teacher's union is currently vowing to go a step further by setting up informational pickets this week outside at least three schools. "It will inform the public. We will be asking them to contact the school board in support of us, and let them know that teachers in Baltimore city are working without a contact, and they are to support this effort," said Marietta English of the Baltimore City Teacher's Union. The union said the main sticking point in the contract is teacher planning time. City School Chief Executive Officer Dr. Andres Alonso said that the contract dispute really boils down to a simple request by the administration. "The board and I have asked for one planning period a week to be used for common planning time or professional development at the discretion of the principal. I hear I'm trying to take away planning time. That's ridiculous," he said. "We are talking about planning time, time that is precious to teachers and time that they need to plan their lessons to mark papers to get prepared for the next class," English said. The union said that until there's a new agreement, teachers will continue to work by the terms of their old contract. WBAL TV 11 News learned that the Baltimore city teachers union is not pleased with the school board or Alonso. The union said it is prepared to take a vote of no confidence as it relates to the contract controversy.

Posted by Norm @ ed notes online at 7:16 AM

Joel, Eva, Mike and Cathie, All In Bed Together; But Where's Michelle Cahill?

Charter Schools Flex Muscles in Cathie Black Appointment Debate
Billy Wharton, November 20th, 2010 3:30 pm ET
Charter schools have had something of a coming out party lately. While public education supporters have loudly opposed Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s appointment of Cathie Black as Schools Chancellor, charter school owners have run a very public campaign in support of Black and the Mayor. Charters are privately owned and publicly funded enterprises that have taken to combining splashy media appearances with behind the scenes influence to shape many of the decisions that effect public education.

Bloomberg’s bypassing of democratic norms such as public hearings, town hall meetings or a transparent selection process allowed the charter school owners to appear as authoritative sources in the realm of public opinion. This was, however, something more like an echo chamber since the charters were in on the Cathie Black appointment from day one.

The Charter Schools Speak!

Chief among the charter spokespeople is Deborah Kenny, the founder and CEO of the Harlem Village Academies. Kenny squared off with New York Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio on the popular FOX morning show Good Day New York after Bloomberg announced the Black appointment.

DeBlasio made the rather tepid demand that a public hearing be held where Black could lay out her vision for the school system and take questions from opponents. Kenny wasn’t having it.

She called the proposals that Black have a background in education “extremely disrespectful to teachers” who, she argued, didn’t need pedagogical direction from above. In addition, a hearing, “takes us back into the Dark Ages” before Mayoral control where everyone had an opinion, but nothing was done. Kenny described Black as “an excellent leader” and emphatically stated that she trusted Bloomberg’s judgment.

Not surprisingly, DeBlasio caved quickly by swearing allegiance to Mayoral control. He then followed this by saying that he himself was not opposed to the Black appointment per se. He just wanted to hear her present her ideas. So much for the opposition.

The FOX News anchor was a bit feistier. He pushed Kenny by indicating that appointees at the Federal level also face public confirmation hearings where they are forced to lay out their plans. A snide smile from Kenny was followed by, “And how much do we get done at the Federal government level?” Sensing he had gone too far out on a liberal branch, the anchor recoiled.

Kenny was successful in tying the appointment to the larger issue of Mayoral control, demonizing an attempt at public accountability and staking her claim as an authority capable of evaluating such an issue.

When the Privatizers Attack!

Eva Moskowitz, CEO of the Harlem Success Academy, took a different tact on the Black appoint by choosing to lay out the charter’s vision of the future in print. The debate offered Moskowitz an opportunity for mass ideological education, charter style.

Drawing on claims that presented Black as a “no-nonsense leader” and “bold manager,” Moskowitz presented a “to-do” list in a Daily News op-ed. Top of the list, no surprises here, is “parent choice.” In charter school new-speak this means even more privatization of the public education system by opening up the number of charters that are available.

The second was even more openly ideological with a few dashes of racial overtones thrown in. In Moskowitz’s mind, “middle-class parents” want in on the charter school craze, but these institutions mostly exist in “low-income communities.” Expanding charters is her next step following “our focus on crime in the 1990s made the city more livable.” This could “take city living to the next level.” Presumably, white flighters from the suburbs would roar back into the city once the charter schools clean things up educationally.

The final points on the list involve a direct assault on public schools, public school teachers and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). “Charter schools,” she argued, “need to be treated like the public schools they truly are… [not]… routinely targeted and attacked as private entities.” She called for increased funding per-pupil to make the public and charter schools equivalent, a move that would certainly bankrupt the system and shift the advantages even more in the direction of charters.

Finally, Moskowitz urged Black to confront the UFT. She presented the union contract as serving to, “prevent the city from attracting and retaining talented educators who want schools organized around teaching and learning, not the interests of grownups.” Presumably, grownup interests include trivialities such as healthcare, vacation and job security. Are there any talented educators that are not concerned about these issues?

Autocratic City Hall – Where the Charter Schools Breed

While Moskowitz and Kenny took their conservative message to the masses via the media, Geoffrey Canada, the CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, worked in place more familiar to charter school owners – the political shadows of City Hall politics. Canada admitted that he was the only “educator” consulted about the Black appointment by Mayor Bloomberg. No surprise since the Mayor recently described Canada as “the most important living New Yorker.”

Despite the revelation, Canada still played it close to the vest in an interview with the New York Times. He refused to relay any details regarding his conversation with the Mayor and towed the company line by saying he was “thrilled” by the choice while deflecting notions that he himself had been a leading candidate.

Then again, Canada has bigger fish to fry then the New York political scene has to offer. He has vaulted himself onto a national stage as a leading voice for “educational reform” in the form of charter school privatization. The heavily pro-charter documentary “Waiting for Superman” has solidified his national profile and open the door for presentations such as recent one made at the US Department of Education.

Tea Partiers in Suits?

Kenny, Moskowitz and Canada are the public faces of a deeply conservative political force in New York City. Flush with funds hijacked from the public sector and skilled at manipulating terms like “reform” and “empowerment,” these are not your Tea Party type conservatives. Nonetheless, the goals seem quite similar – annihilate the public sector, break the strength of unions and exert political authority outside of democratic norms.

They have clearly found a champion in Cathie Black, a corporate manager skilled at asset stripping, downsizing and violating rights on a local and global basis. The social power of the charters has been exercised in her defense.

The hope is that the sheer arrogance of this maneuver by Bloomberg will awaken some spirit of resistance amongst the people of this city who are served by the public schools. If not, the trends toward privatization and autocratic political authority will accelerate, leaving behind students in increasingly desperate need of a good education and a society in equally urgent need of grassroots democratic renewal.

Billy Wharton is a writer, activist and the editor of theSocialist WebZine. His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, the NYC Indypendent, Spectrezine and the Monthly Review Zine. He can be reached Become a FAN on Facebook.

oh yes, and let's add that Michelle Cahill has been brought in to "help" Commissioner Steiner with getting the waiver for Ms. Black so that she can be Chancellor.
Michelle Cahill????? I spoke with her several times when she was General Counsel for the NYC BOE. I tried to get due process rights for several children, both in special education as well as suspended without cause. Ms. Cahill helped the BOE obstruct the justice due these kids quickly.
Here's more:
Michele Cahill
Carnegie Foundation

Vice President, National Program, and Program Director, Urban Education

Michele Cahill is vice-president for national programs and director of urban education at Carnegie Corporation of New York where she leads the Corporation's strategy to meet the twin goals of contributing to societal efforts to create pathways to educational and economic opportunity by generating systemic change across a K-16 continuum, and to create pathways to citizenship, civil participation and civic integration in a pluralistic society.

Prior to rejoining Carnegie Corporation in 2007, she held the position of senior counselor to the chancellor for education policy in the New York City Department of Education under Chancellor Joel Klein. Cahill was a member of the Children First senior leadership team that oversaw and implemented the full-scale reorganization and reform of the New York City public schools. She played a pivotal role in the development of Children First reforms in secondary education, district redesign and accountability, new school development, and student support services. Cahill led a number of research and development projects and co-managed the cross-functional school restructuring processes for four years.

Cahill spent three years with Carnegie Corporation as a senior program officer in the Education Division. She was responsible for the vision and the establishment of Schools for a New Society, the Corporation's seven-city urban school reform experiment, and the New Century High Schools, a partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Society Institute and New Visions for Public Schools.

Cahill has more than thirty years experience in education reform, youth development and urban affairs work. She served as Vice President of the Fund for the City of New York where she developed the Beacons Schools initiative with New York City and as Vice President for Schools and Community Services at the Academy for Educational Development where she led several national demonstration projects with more than 20 urban districts. Cahill spent a decade as the co-founder of the Public Policy Program, a nationally recognized innovative college program for non-traditional students and assistant professor and Director of the Urban Studies Program at Saint Peter's College in Jersey City.

Cahill has a B.A. in Urban Affairs from Saint Peter's College, a Masters of Arts in Urban Affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she pursued doctoral studies in social policy and planning at Columbia University where she was a Revson Fellow.

Michelle Cahill
Video of Michelle Cahill and Her Design For Education Reform
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