Join the GOOGLE +Rubber Room Community

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: AndrĂ©s 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
See the rest of the staff at CC