Saturday, November 13, 2010

Even The New York Daily News Finds Chancellor-Elect Cathie Black Unqualified. How Come Our Union Leadership Doesn't?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg picked one of his rich and powerful friends to become the next Chancellor of the New York City Schools. The nominee is magazine CEO Cathie Black who had no educational experience and who's children went to a ritzy private school. Further, she admits that she is clueless on how the New York City Pubic Schools work. Even the Mayor's usual media mouthpieces, the New York Daily News and the New York Times questioned her lack of qualifications. Most disturbing was the lack of any competition for the job. It appears that she was selected because she was in the Mayor4Life's inner circle of friends. Of course the New York Post didn't see why the Chancellor needs to have educational qualifications. Now it is up to the State to grant a waiver for the unqualified Cathie Black to become the next Chancellor of the New York City Public Schools.

You would expect that our union would take the lead as opposition started to question this selection of an unqualified person to be Chancellor. This was the time for the powerful UFT to take a stand and write a letter to State Commissioner Stiener to deny a waiver for the Chancellor-elect. Shockingly, I could not believe my eyes when the UFT President, Michael (don't call me Mike) Mulgrew stated the following:

“When I met her, I thought she was very nice and I’m looking forward to working with her,” Mulgrew said. “When someone is new you have to be optimistic. You can’t go in with any preconceived notions and that’s the only way I am going into this.”.

Instead of leading the opposition our UFT leadership is actually welcoming the unqualified Chancellor-elect. Just unbelievable!. Now the opposition is being lead by real education reformers and politicians like Tony Avella, and even the head of the City Council's education committee, Robert Jackson, have expressed their displeasure with her and set up online petitions to express there disgust of Cathie Black's lack of educational qualifications and deny her the waiver she need sto be Chancellor. If there is one silver lining in this is the mass resignation of many of Joel Klein's top aids at Tweed Here. Moreover, look for others to follow.

Our union should be taking the lead in opposition of the unqualified Chancellor-elect, not welcoming her.

Petition One:

Petition Two:


Anonymous said...

Mulgrew took half a step back, saying that he trusted Steiner's judgment. But I agree, we should expect more.

The quick success of the petition campaigns may help get their attention. Forward widely!


reality-based educator said...

Let me sort of half-heartedly defend Mulgrew here.

Let's say he knows she isn't qualified to be chancellor but he doesn't want to say so in public or work against her getting the waiver because he would rather have the Daily News and the Times, along with some politicians, do that.

That way the union can look like it didn't oppose her or kill the appointment.

Also, let's say Steiner doesn't really give a shit about the petitions or the Times or News because the only that matters to him is making Bloomberg happy and he grants the waiver anyway.

Then you have Mulgrew and the UFT already publicly sparring with the new chancellor and you give the ed deform contingent more ammo to say "See, the union opposes everything!"

Now I'm not saying that Mulgrew is smart enough to think through that process.

He probably isn't.

But let's say that's how it plays out - the union says little, the News and Times and politicians and petition signers call for Steiner to oppose her and Steiner gives her the waiver anyway (as he will, you can be sure.)

What would Mulgrew and the UFT havegained in that case?

I dunno, just musing aloud here, Chaz.

I'm not used to defending Mulgarten or the UFT on anything, so it seems weird.

But I think in way, the UFT may be playing this right.

One final thing: the Black appointment is a lot like the Harriet Miers appointment - I wanted Miers to be put on the court because I was afraid that if Bush were forced to pull back her nomination, he'd put a real right winger on the court.

That's exactly what happened and now we have Sam "I love corporations over people" Alito on the Supreme Court.

What if Bloomberg is forced to pull Black back and then he decides "Okay, you guys want an "educator"? How's Michelle Rhee for you?"

Because that could happen too.

I almost think we have the best of all possible worlds here - Klein is gone, Black is already wounded and people are skeptical of her. If the appointment does go through, any move she makes can be counted with "What does she know about schools? She's a Cosmo publisher!" and the public and maybe even the op-ed people will be likely to buy that.


Again, just musing aloud...

Chaz said...


You have a point and of course I do have bridge that I would be happy to sell to you.

Next, you will tell me hat Sarah Pain wouldn't be so bad as President. We could have worse. Oh I forgot we do Obama.

reality-based educator said...

I know, I know - Mulgrew's not that smart. So forget that part. But how about the second part? Here's what I mean

"I almost think we have the best of all possible worlds here - Klein is gone, Black is already wounded and people are skeptical of her. If the appointment does go through, any move she makes can be counted with "What does she know about schools? She's a Cosmo publisher!" and the public and maybe even the op-ed people will be likely to buy that."

Does that make any sense?

Chaz said...


Actually it does. You know I respect you opinion...even if it is to the left of me.

Pissed said...

Mulgrew seemeed wimpishly passive during his interview. Can'r he just call a spade...a spade? A chess game is for masters, not master-baters. Take the helm or get off the ship. Stop this insanity!

Michael Fiorillo said...

RBEs analysis makes sense. Whether the UFT leadership is consciously letting her publicly implode, while not appearing obstructive, who knows? Obviously, past practiv=ce is not encouraging, but let's at least be happy as the bad guys shoot themselves in their feet.

Black is one of the best things that has happened to the opponents of ed deform and Bloomberg. She's stupendously unqualified, and her being put forward amply demonstrates the mayor's arrogance and contempt for virtually everyone.

The longer she's up there, the whinier and testier Bloomberg gets in public. Maybe the press will even start to report on how nasty a piece of work he is, and people may start to turn in him.

Every day she's there, he's weaker.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how the union can appear to be too combative, when they have caved on all of the major issues over the last few years. They win the court case on closing schools, but don't fight to enforce their victory. They settle the rubber rooms, then don't require the DOE to comply. Mulgrew changes assessment tied to test scores overnight without ANY discussion with anyone. On, and on, and people are worried that the UFT will be seen as too combative if their leader states the obvious? We're long past the time to be Machiavelian now. No, though I respect the opinion of the posters here, I think this merely shows the UFT's weakness and complicity in the privitization and corporatization of our schools, and the end of the profession as we knew it. I could see your argument if in fact the UFT HAD fought hard for us in the recent past, BUT they sadly have seemingly caved on 90 per cent of the major issues. This is just the most glaring and recent of the bunch. We have no more time to play footsie with a mad dictator type like Bloomberg. The man is off his rocker with power at this point and WILL run the table if we don't dig in our heels and fight.Mulgrew's and hence the UFT's response to Black is less than pathetic, but quite telling.

Pogue said...

Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense. For the past 9 years the UFT has had so much good material to expose against BloomKlein policies, reorganizations, false statistics and so on.

It has just been so sad that it has been parent and teacher bloggers, alone, who have been venting outrage over the mayor's public education malfeasance.

Let teachers educate the children while the UFT educates the public.

Anonymous said...

The UFT is correct in its position regarding the selection of Mrs Black as new schools chancellor. While many rank and file members are seething at the appointment, there is little to be gained by openly opposing the selection. To me the real questions are; does the UFT political arm have enough juice to kill the waiver if they want to? Also, is it worth the fight to embarass the mayor? Mulgrew has taken the correct public posture while privately I believe he too seeths at the arrogance and disregard exhibited by Bloomberg

Moriah Untamed said...

Just to clarify my point of view, I am looking at all of this from the rubber room--the extreme bottom of the pile.

Moriah Untamed said...

As far as I am concerned, all the s---t that has trickled down on me comes out of Bloomberg, and nobody else. Klein acted on his orders, Black will act on his orders after Steiner acts on his orders.

I don't want to think that Mulgrew is acting on his orders. However, I don't know why Mulgrew should be worried about people outside the Union thinking that he is not cooperating with Bloomberg.

That is not his job. His job is to lead, defend, and organize his Union's members who pay him, and to work in their best interests.

Anonymous said...

"Alas, is it worth the fight to embarrass the mayor" ? ? ? Are you kidding me???Have we degenerated into the fealty system of Lord/serf completely? We DARE NOT to offend the Lord Bloomberg? That's preposterous. The bit on political power in Albany ALWAYS held true-the activities going on "behind closed doors." Even if Mulgrew used bitter public rhetoric damning the Black appointment, it's only words. It's called representing your people, and promoting your cause to the public, and a host of other things. A "don't embarrass the mayor" strategy is appalling to consider as reality. I think it's more about the obvious. AND the fact that Lord Bloomberg's buddy, the D.News owner allowed his rag to condemn the move is rather fishy to me. This is THE first major putdown of ANYTHING Lord Bloomberg has done in education in 9 years on the front page of his toilet paper.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the addition of Klein to News Corp has twisted the genitals of Zuckerman to the point that the mayor is fair game. As far as the UFT posture, they have been from the beginning and are now more than ever a politically fueled labor union. Their political power is what separates them from many other unions in the city and state. Do they want to flex it over Ms Black? Should they?

Anonymous said...
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Chaz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chaz said...

I do see the advantage of letting others do the "dirty work" to challenge the quulafications of Cathie Black. However, our union should be taking the lead not playing footsie with Bloomberg and Black.

As for the do-nothing, know nothing Unity hack the General. Your misinformation and disinformation campaign is laughable.

Anonymous said...

You saw today's Daily News?

He's opposing the process, and criticizing Bloomberg (not Black), but it's still a move in the right direction:

The teachers union president ripped into the mayor Sunday for naming Cathie Black schools chancellor, calling it "irresponsible" and an abuse of power.

"It's my opinion that the mayor has abused his authority under the mayoral control law," United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew told more than 200 parents gathered for workshops on how to better navigate the school system.

"This is not about Ms. Black," Mulgrew said to applause. "I do not believe that anyone thought the mayor would speak to no one, hide it, keep it a secret, not consult any educational experts and then name someone with no qualifications to be the chancellor of the New York City school system."

Mulgrew said he would not pass judgment on Black until their meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday, but he did tell parents, "I would be appalled if a teacher was named the head of the Fire Department of New York City."

Chaz said...


I did see it and it is a step in the right direction. However, he should of done that in the first place, not let others do the heavy lifting in opposition.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, I agree.

When it finally reached the DA, we supported the process, Steiner's process, and resolved to change the law to make the next search public.

There should have been much more.

Anonymous said...

Could possibly be the GREATEST topic that i read all week?!