“But what are kings, when regiment is gone,
But perfect shadows in a sunshine day?” ~ from Edward II, by Christopher Marlowe
As swiftly as it came, the reign of Cathie the First came crashing down today–and there’s plenty of blame to spread around.
At 11:30 am, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Cathie Black had resigned as New York City Schools Chancellor, to be replaced by longtime Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott. According to the Mayor, the split was amicable, in that both agreed that they needed a new direction. Yet privately, most believe that Bloomberg showed Cathie the door.
So what happened? Obviously, Cathie never bothered to read the suggestions we gave her when she started. She never had the support of the teaching corps, who saw her as a meddling interloper and empty vessel. Furthermore, she never even tried to wade into the treacherous waters of negotiation and budget battles.
It was just that much easier to slug down appletinis with Graydon Carter and Anna Wintour under a tent during Fashion Week.
What followed through the next 100 days was an unqualified embarrassment. A recent Marist poll showed an abysmal 17% approval rating. After numerous faux pas and a series of bumbling media fiascos, the rats began to abandon the ship. One by one the Deputy Chancellors, a veritable Praetorian Guard that shielded Black from the gathering storm, either resigned or were replaced.
It was only a matter of time.
So who was to blame for this 100-day nightmare? Mayor Bloomberg, for one. At least he cowboyed up and accepted “full responsibility.” Like so many education reform bozos, Bloomberg thought that skirting certification and appointment protocols would produce a suitable Chancellor, only to fizzle in a sea of media flops and epileptic leadership.
The other ne’er do wells shouldn’t get a pass, though. Joel Klein also gets some blame, since his insistence pushed Cathie Black into the Mayor’s eye, especially while he basked in Rupert Murdoch’s glow. The City Council, who have been impotent for over a decade now, proved its rubber-stamp quality through a feeble attempt to block Black’s appointment.
Yet even the shenanigans of Bloomberg, et. al. would have gone for nought if it weren’t for the connivance of the New York State Education Department–acting with the blessing of the New York Board of Regents. Predating our constitution, New York‘s education establishment was once one of the noblest, most august institutions of education in America. That changed when the Education Commissioner, David Steiner, worked with Bloomberg to get Black a waiver from certification–since she had no qualifications whatsoever.
Our once great granite rock of education had become a filthy loofah, used by politicians and billionaire scum to scrape their underlings clean of hypocrisy and criminality. Even though Commissioner Steiner’s job is now in jeopardy, Governor Cuomo should make a bold, radical decision and fire the entire Board of Regents in one blow. Only thus would we have anything close to our education department’s former glory.
The Neighborhood’s last words are for our new Chancellor, Dennis Walcott. You’ve been involved in public education for a fair amount of your life. We look forward to working with you for the education of our students. Please take a look at our suggestions we gave to Cathie–just avoid the sarcastic remarks.
Those remarks aren’t meant for you–yet. You’ve been warned.
Good News for New York State Social Studies Tests
Image via Wikipedia
In the last few years, social studies has taken a huge hit in states across America.
So any glimmer of hope–no matter how faint–is worth celebrating.
In late October, the New York State Education Department released a Notice of Intent informing testing companies and providers that the NYSED will be issuing a request for proposals for upcoming science tests in grades 4, 6 and 8 as well as a resurrected state social studies test in grades 6-8. According to the statement, the tests will be developed in the spring or summer of 2012, with field tests ready for 2013. The entire system is targeted for launch for the 2013-2014 school year.
A big kudos to New York’s Education Commissioner John King for addressing a major injustice done in 2010 for budgetary reasons. As followers of the Neighborhood are aware, the fifth and eighth grade social studies tests were suspended in 2010 due to financial constraints. When I wrote to then-Senior Deputy Commissioner King, he informed me there was no set timetable for these tests to return.
Although it is an initial step, this request for proposals is a definite step in the right direction.
Best of luck to Dr. King and the folks at Albany in creating authentic, rigorous assessments for middle schoolers in science and social studies. Hopefully, this will lead to an eventual re-instatement of an elementary level social studies test which is absolutely necessary.
That, however, remains for another day.
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Tagged as Commentary, Communications, current events, Curriculum, Education, education reform, Educational leadership, Leadership, New York, New York State Education Department, Social studies, Standards, Student, Teacher, Teachers, Teaching, United States