Not Just Yet, Cathie Black...

The secret panel that met somewhere secretive in New York City to secretly discuss their secret thoughts about whether Cathie Black should be the next NYC Public Schools Chancellor secretly voted against granting Black a waiver that would allow her the job.  This, of course, was all for the purpose of improving education, a pillar of democracy you'd rightly be forgiven for misunderstanding as a toy for corporate elites.

Now it's up to Commissioner Steiner to decide whether to grant the waiver in the face of the panel's vote, which he may decide to do if Bloomberg agrees to restructure some leadership roles at the DOE.

On the flip side of this whole education mess, I dealt with something today that neither Cathie Black nor Mayor Bloomberg have any experience with: educating Latino youth.  And if there's one thing that I've learned about small schools thus far in NYC, it's that schools without systems are really hard places to work.

My small school only just got an online system for keeping track of student attendance and grades.  Until now, all the teachers have been keeping hard copies.  I spent two hours today handwriting report cards.

My small school does not have a well-functioning system for any of the following things: hallway passes, tardy consequences, student awards, supplies distribution, new teacher mentoring, ensuring every classroom has access to the internet, attendance collection, and a few other things I can't think of right now.

We need systems!!!!!  But systems have to be built from the top down.  The administration has to put their systems in place before I put mine in place, otherwise every time the administration puts a system in place, I will have to rethink my system.

Here's the catch: if you design your administrative system to micromanage your underlings, it's likely your underlings will end up merely doing the job to get the paycheck, and most people will probably be either very mediocre or decide to leave.  However, if you create an administrative system (or modify the one you have in place) so that it's designed to empower your capable colleagues, then it's likely your capable colleagues will outperform any micromanaged underling given the opportunity to fail, reflect, and improve.

The moral of this really poorly written story, Mr Steiner, is that when you go to decide whether to grant a waiver to Cathie Black, ask yourself what kind of systems she's interested in.....

And then deny her the waiver ;)


  1. Any chancellor in NYC will be interested only in carrying out the Emperor's mandates, unfortunately. It does feel good to get a moment's notice from the oligarch's, but they'll either push Black through or get someone just as bad. Steiner is a weasel to grant an exception if she gets a more-qualified deputy. They need a more qualified chancellor, and it's sad, but no well-qualified person will get the gig unless he or she is willing to carry out the Bloomberg agenda. The chancellor is really just a glorified mouthpiece in Mayor Bloomberg's New York.

  2. Mayoral control of the school system must end. It's been a complete disaster, and all those kids who have been test-prepped to death! I can't stand it!


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