Mayor Bloomberg has made it very clear in the almost nine years he has been Mayor of New York City that he believes in "The Business Model" for public schools. Supporters of his agenda and the consequences for New York public schools is in the data, on this blog, my website, hundreds of other blogs and in thousands of internet articles around the globe (Joel Klein even duped Australia, remember? See article below from Sydney) . At least in NYC we can say that this model has been a failure. We can even say that the Bloomberg/Klein administration has ended up being the biggest disaster in the history of public school systems, but maybe I'm getting carried away.
Here is Mayor Bloomberg's request for a waiver so that Cathie Black can be officially appointed Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education.
More about that in another article.
Here, my purpose is to post an article in Crain's New York Business that tells us that the almost-chancellor Cathie Black (she still needs a waiver) is being taught about chancellorship, and to suggest a 2-day curriculum for her to learn exactly what is involved in finally making NYC a successful private school system:
November 14, 2010 5:59 AM
Outsider chiefs getting schooled
Black appointment highlights trend, but business skills aren't enough
By Daniel Massey, Crain's New York Business
The Daily News' front cover last Wednesday summed up the general reaction to publishing executive Cathleen Black's selection as city schools chancellor: “Huh?” In fact, choosing nontraditional professionals to run school systems has become more commonplace nationwide in the eight years since Michael Bloomberg tapped Joel Klein, an education outsider, to lead the schools here.
Challenging the status quo, this new breed has pushed reform agendas that stress measurable results. Individuals from outside education now lead 5% of the country's largest 200 urban school districts, according to the Los Angeles-based Broad Center for the Management of School Systems. In 2009 alone, 43% of the 28 vacancies in large districts were filled by graduates of the center's Superintendents Academy, which specializes in training leaders with unconventional backgrounds.
“There's a difference between being a teacher and leading an organization that's focused on teaching,” says Becca Bracy Knight, executive director of the Broad Center. “You can have someone running a great symphony who isn't a concert violinist. It doesn't mean the violinist isn't important; it's just a different skill set.”
At Ms. Black's introductory press conference last week, Mr. Bloomberg called her a “world-class manager,” and said that her ability to handle a budget and a staff trumped her lack of education credentials. “Our problem is making sure an organization with a $23 billion budget, with 135,000 employees, that has to deal with every level of government, that has to deal with all sorts of social problems, is able to function.”
As chairman of Hearst Magazines, Ms. Black oversaw 2,000 employees who produced over 200 editions of 14 magazines in 100 countries. The company's U.S. revenue fell 19% last year, to $1.8 billion, but there's no estimate of its international revenue, according to Ad Age. Supporters say Ms. Black's skills will be critical with budget cuts looming. They also argue that the foundation of reform is in place, and what's needed is someone who can complete it.
“The key now is to pull all the stakeholders together to get it implemented,” says Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City. “That's a job that really requires the kind of management, communication and consensus-building skills that Cathie Black has.”
Finding support in the ranks
Mr. Bloomberg also pointed out that the chancellor has support from a team of eight deputies—most of them with extensive education experience. One, Photeine Anagnostopoulos, resigned within hours of Ms. Black's hiring becoming public, however, and keeping the others could prove a challenge. For example, Eric Nadelstern, Mr. Klein's top deputy, was passed over. That surprised insiders, who felt his four decades of experience in the system positioned Mr. Nadelstern to be the next chancellor.
Other outsiders who have taken over school systems say Ms. Black faces the challenge of a lifetime. Their advice? That she listen.
Jonathan Raymond managed a nonprofit with a $9 million budget before transitioning into education administration in 2006. In 2009, he was appointed superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District, which has 47,000 students and a $370 million budget.
Mr. Raymond said he visited all of the system's 82 schools in his first 110 days on the job. “As nontraditional leaders, we come in with a lot of the right skills on the business side, but what we often neglect in an effort to make change is the importance of building consensus,” he says. “I had to take time to really listen and learn from the community.”
Expectations not always aligned
Paula Dawning, a former vice president of sales at AT&T, led the Benton Harbor Area Schools System, one of Michigan's poorest and most chronically underperforming districts, for five years before retiring in 2007. In her first two years, fourth-grade reading scores doubled, and the overall dropout rate fell 20%.
Ms. Dawning warns that Ms. Black's job will be her toughest, with parents, teachers, the business community and government maneuvering for influence. “One of the big differences going from the private to the public sector was you had so many constituencies you had to respond to,” she says. “And their expectations are not necessarily aligned.”
Both Mr. Raymond and Ms. Dawning attended the Broad Center's academy, while Ms. Black is taking charge of 1.1 million students without any training. (Ms. Knight says the center will offer the new chancellor a “crash course.”)
While Messrs. Raymond and Klein and Ms. Dawning experienced success, outsider failures include Julius Becton, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who resigned after two years of struggling as head of the D.C. system.
Jeffrey Henig, professor of political science and education at Teachers College-Columbia University, says, “Lots of folks believe if you bring in a tough organizer and manager and array the right staff you can make up for lack of substantive knowledge, but the case for that hasn't been made.” Though it can be done, he adds, “it's just a harder row to hoe, and it's not clear to me why that would be your first choice.”
“I will be very surprised if she turns out to be independent or concludes that some of the things Klein did were not so great,” says Sol Stern, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
I do not think that Cathie Black should get the waiver to be chancellor, but I thought that I would help "school" Ms. Black. Below I have created a curriculum for the 2-day NYC public school system course
"How To Be A Chancellor":
Day 1: Philosophy Of Privatizing Public Schools
[a] History and success of autocratic rule: the business model in a public setting
[b] Successful Business Ventures in Public Education: How and Why - the Jack Welch approach
[c] Why propaganda is useful
[d] The benefits of benevolent dictatorship and ignoring public opinion
Day 2: Practicum
[a] How to control public opinion by establishing media connections
[b] How to ignore parent/teacher whistleblowers who get in your way
[c] How to write speeches that pretend to give the public what they want
[d] How to alter data and change accountability numbers to suit your agenda
[e] How to fire people and make it look like he/she resigned
Comments and questions
Meet and greet for all vendors who want to curry favor with you and for members of City Council and Congress who will want favors in support of your agenda
New York schools have failed the test
Kevin Donnelly, The Sydney Morning Herald, November 12, 2010
Australia's approach to testing students and holding schools and teachers accountable has been copied from New York. The head of schools there, Joel Klein, has just announced his resignation, and an evaluation of the success or otherwise of the New York experience suggests we may be copying his mistakes.
Julia Gillard, when she was education minister, touted New York's system of teacher and school accountability as the world's best. She used the US example to justify Australia-wide testing in literacy and numeracy at years 3, 5, 7 and 9 and making school results public on the My School website.
Advertisement: Story continues below In 2008 Gillard met Klein in New York and was so impressed with his policies that she invited him to Australia to show his approach of publicly ranking schools and penalising the underperformers.
Klein argues that his reforms have turned around failing schools and raised standards, but the evidence is far from convincing. He refers to improved results in the local New York tests over the past five to six years. But while the local results have improved, based on the more credible National Assessment of Educational Progress tests, the reality is that standards in New York have flatlined.
The suspicion that students achieved better results because the local tests had been made easier to pass was confirmed by a recent independent report, commissioned by the New York Board of Regents and carried out by Professor Daniel Koretz of Harvard University.
When benchmarked against the US national tests, the report says, standards in New York have not improved. Students achieving excellent results in the Klein tests fail to perform in the more academically focused and rigorous Regents examinations.
As Marc Epstein concluded in an analysis published in New York's City Journal, "The feel-good story of rising student test scores over the last several years is largely an illusion produced by dumbed-down tests."
The education scholar Diane Ravitch, who I visited in New York and who is largely responsible for me changing my mind on the benefits of testing and accountability, argues that Klein's approach is "antithetical to good education".
Mirroring Australian critics, Professor Ravitch argues in The Death and Life of the Great American School System that focusing too much on testing the basics leads to a narrow and impoverished curriculum. Such is the pressure on schools to raise standards that subjects such as history, music, physical education and literature decline as teachers give priority to what is being tested.
Given the high-risk nature of testing and accountability, where underperforming schools face eventual closure and teacher pay is linked to performance, Ravitch and other critics say test results are manipulated.
Increasingly, schools are refusing to enrol weaker students, telling parents to keep underperforming students at home on the day of the test. In extreme cases, teachers have been caught cheating by coaching students during a test or providing answers.
Ravitch also argues that Klein's approach, where schools are measured from year to year in terms of how well they improve test results, is flawed and inconsistent. New York schools that consistently perform at the top of the test table are graded D or F (as they show no improvement from year to year) while less academically successful schools are graded A based on the fact that results have improved over time.
A group of testing experts from the National Research Council mirrored many of these concerns in a 2009 letter to the US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. They warned about relying too much on standardised, short answer tests such as those introduced in New York, saying "a test score is an estimate rather than an exact measure of what a person knows and can do".
The letter also expresses doubts about the reliability and validity of tests. As the aphorism suggests, there are lies, damned lies and statistics.
As someone who has been a vocal advocate of testing and accountability, I might expect criticism for doing an about-face. But as John Maynard Keynes said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
Dr Kevin Donnelly is director of the Education Standards Institute and author of Australia's Education Revolution (Connor Court Publishing).
A close-up look at NYC education policy, politics,and the people who have been, are now, or will be affected by these actions and programs. ATR CONNECT assists individuals who suddenly find themselves in the ATR ("Absent Teacher Reserve") pool and are the "new" rubber roomers, people who have been re-assigned from their life and career. A "Rubber Room" is not a place, but a process.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
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