"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, November 27, 2010

White Knuckles Among Corporate Education Reformers

(Click to enlarge. Photo: Patino for News) With the Daley/Duncan reforms in Chicago so poisonous that Ron Huberman is in flight even as "Ren2010" has been eliminated from the City bureaucracy's vocab, and with Michelle Rhee repudiated and dismissed in DC, and with the empirical evidence piling up that nearly all of the federal (Gates/Broad) K-12 initiatives have no support among scientists, humanists, or serious researchers, and with parents around the country quickly coming to realize that charter choice means choice without a voice, and with teachers reclaiming their own voices from the whore union leaders who have been selling teachers down the river, and with students the world over openly confronting the Oligarchs who want to eliminate the public space for education and to make it a multinational corporate enterprise, with all this going on, the challenge to Bloomberg's corporate dictatorship in the City was a big deal.  Even Arne called the corporate stooge, Steiner, to give his blessing to the "deal."

The deal, of course, centers on the appointment of Polakow-Suransky as Cathie Black's obsequious tutor on all things educational.  Until July 2009, Polakow-Suransky had remained a utility infielder and gofer within the City's ed bureaucracy.  When the heat from the fraudulent test score scam got too hot for accountability chief, James Liebman, forcing him back uptown to resume his professorial role at the Columbia Law School, the unknown Polakow-Suransky was brought to absorb the public's rage as the testing house of cards came tumbling down.  Polakow-Suransky, who has been properly schooled by the Broadies, now reaps his reward for loyalty to the Borg.

Today's installment in the continuing saga from the Times:
. . . . Mr. Bloomberg viewed Dr. Steiner’s challenge as a critical test of his authority over the school system. The mayor told people involved in the negotiations that a rejection of Ms. Black would undermine the model of mayoral control and set a dangerous precedent.

At one point while the negotiations were under way, Mr. Bloomberg said publicly that the law requiring the schools chancellor to hold education credentials was obsolete and should be abolished.

Mr. Bloomberg had initially believed he could build enough public pressure to force Dr. Steiner to approve Ms. Black, according to the person with knowledge of the negotiations. Business executives, former mayors and celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg flooded Dr. Steiner’s offices with messages in support of Ms. Black.

But Dr. Steiner remained skeptical, and he said on Tuesday he would consider her appointment only if Mr. Bloomberg installed an educator at her side.

The talks with the mayor about that possibility grew more serious after an eight-member panel advising Dr. Steiner on Ms. Black’s qualifications on Tuesday mustered only two votes unconditionally in support of her, unexpectedly throwing the selection process into disarray.

Mr. Bloomberg typically loathes intrusions into his management of the city. But throughout the negotiations for the waiver, he showed an unusual willingness to compromise to preserve Ms. Black’s candidacy. To the surprise of his own associates, he held his tongue in public, refusing to challenge Dr. Steiner and the panel that rebuked his choice for chancellor.

The reaction to the deal, and to Mr. Polakow-Suransky’s appointment, was mixed on Friday.

State Assemblyman Hakeem S. Jeffries, a Democrat who has helped coordinate the opposition to Ms. Black, said he would pursue a legal challenge, arguing that the appointment of a chief academic officer does not compensate for Ms. Black’s lack of educational experience.

Sol Stern, an education researcher at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative research group, said he thought that the deal was a victory for Mr. Bloomberg, and that Mr. Polakow-Suransky’s appointment would not be a serious check to Ms. Black’s authority. “He will be treated by the mayor and Black as a gofer,” Mr. Stern, a frequent critic of the mayor, wrote in an e-mail. “This is a farce.”

Underscoring the high-stakes nature of Ms. Black’s fate, even the federal secretary of education, Arne Duncan, spoke to both Dr. Steiner and Mr. Bloomberg during the negotiations.. . .

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