Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Why Cathie Black Was Really Good For The New York City Public Schools.
At the end of the 2010, Mayor4Life Michael Bloomberg decided that Chancellor Joel Klein was a liability to him after New York State re-cut the state test scores which showed that improving student academic achievement was all "smoke and mirrors". Moreover, the academic achievement gap based upon income and race was wider than ever. Even the newspapers were now skeptical of Joel Klein's boasts of academic improvement and questioned the improved graduation rates which appeared to be strongly influenced by bogus "credit recovery programs". The Mayor4Life, Michael Bloomberg, was also very aware of the unpopular Chancellor's low approval ratings and his antagonistic approach to the State legislature. For the Mayor4Life, he needed to have a more subservient Chancellor. A Chancellor that would follow his every order without questioning them. One night at a cocktail party with his closest friends and other elites, he spotted Cathie Black and asked her would she like the job as Chancellor of the New York City schools? Cathie Black was flattered but told the Mayor4Life she had no experience in education. She explained that she went to an elite private school and her children were sent to boarding school, what did she know of the public schools? The Mayor4Life said I need somebody like you who socializes with the elites and that your staff will take care of the day to day issues dealing with the schools. Cathie Black accepted the Chancellor position and this is how the story begins on why Cathie Black was good for the New York City Schools.
First, Cathie Black's selection as Chancellor showed even his media supporters how Mayor4Life Michael Bloomberg didn't really care who was Chancellor as long as he controlled the schools. The result was the general public actually started to disapprove of the Mayor's education policy.
Second, Cathie Black becoming Chancellor resulted in almost 50% of the leadership at Tweed to leave. Since these were all non-educators with anti-teacher policies. This has to be looked as a positive development for the public schools.
Third, Cathie Black's popularity hit an all-time low at 17% just before she was fired. Her nasty attitude to parents and her elitist ways alienated many parents. In that same survey only 28% of parents with children in the NYC Public Schools thought the Mayor4Life was doing a good job. The result was the State Assembly and Governor were dismissive of the Mayor's LIFO bill without any political fallout due to the unpopularity of both the Mayor and Chancellor.
Finally, the Chancellor's attempt to take money from the principals was not only ill-advised but when she followed that up by failing to disclose where the returned money will be spent on was the last straw for the principals. The result was an almost universal disdain of Cathie Black by parents, principals, and teachers who closed ranks to protest to the State about the New York City Schools and received a sympathetic ear. It was obvious to all that Cathie Black was not only incompetent but the Mayor's puppet and her appearance at the State legislative hearings were not taken seriously by the politicians.
Yes, Cathie Black was incompetent and unpopular. However, she single-highhandedly allowed diverse groups to work together to stop her destructive policies and made the Mayor4Life so unpopular that his LIFO bill was not even addressed by the State Assembly or Governor's Office and the usually obedient City Council refused to agree with teacher layoffs. In other words, Cathie Black was so bad that she was good for the New York City Public Schools.