Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Garth Harries Leaves DOE as Ed Notes Helps Pass Klein Lemons

What do you do when you get a call from a top official at the New Haven school system, as I did two weeks ago, asking your opinion on the NYC ed reforms?

You let it fly.

At least until he reveals they are thinking of hiring Garth Harries, whose appointment as Deputy Superintendent in New Haven was announced on June 8. Harries is one of Joel Klein's chief non-educator/business characters. The New Haven official ran across my Education Notes blog and wanted to know what we thought of Harries. Asking the editor of a digital rag his opinion? I must be living in an alternative universe.

"Hmmm," I think, "Klein always talks about he urges principals to stop passing on teacher lemons to others. Here's an opportunity to pass along a Klein lemon."

Of course, there are Klein lemons spawning all over the place: Washington, Baltimore, Delaware and who knows where else? They're like the swine flu virus.

"Nice guy I hear," I say. "Very personable. Smooth. Doesn't know all that much. Doesn't think class size is important. Often uses the lame expression, ‘Research shows that teacher quality counts more than class size, but when challenged to cite the research, says, I'll get back to you with that.'" Sure, in another life.

"What he actually knows is not important," the official says. "We have a reform movement already that focuses on the classroom and he won't get to impact much on that, but there is thinking here that if we tie into the Joel Klein reform effort by hiring one of his top people, we'll have a better chance of getting some of that stimulus money. And Yale University, who we partner with, is very interested in that aspect."

“In that case, Garth Harries is the perfect guy for you. Great for public relations," I say.

If they wanted a DOE connected guy for PR, they could have done better with PR chief David Cantor for much less money.

Harries was recently put in charge of special ed in NYC despite knowing nothing about it. Nice time to leave in the midst of reorganization.

I referred the story to a parent activist who knows more about Harries than I do who said she would also help pass the Klein lemon by praising Harries to the sky.

Ed Notes had this story for 2 weeks but sat on it out of courtesy to the caller.

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