Saturday, November 13, 2010


Dear Followers,
Lots to report on the Cathie Black situation with online petitions opposing the waiver she needs springing up and agitation over what to do about it. I'm only going to focus on one aspect in this post, starting here:
Many of you may have seen my quote in the Wall Street Journal this morning. I wanted to let you know that what I said was not accurately reported, a lot of context was left out. Second, I was not in any way speaking for S.O.S. I apologize if the article gave that impression. I respect this campaign and
mission too much to put it in jeopardy.

Our buddies at CAPE (Concerned Advocates for Public Education) responded with:

Doubt It!

 In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, a member of the organization Save Our Schools is quoted in reference to  Cathleen Black, the mayor's choice to replace Joel Klein as school chancellor this January.  It seems her discussion with the reporter was not accurately reported and much of the context left out.  CAPE  supports the work of Save Our Schools (SOS), most importantly the fight against high-stakes testing.   However, we do not agree to give Ms. Black "the benefit of the doubt." The members of CAPE reject Cathleen Black as a valid or even reasonable choice for our new chancellor and in no way see her as an ally.  We have no illusions that the appointment of someone with zero experience or credentials in education is anything but another step in an agenda to undermine public education.  We demand a qualified chancellor with a record of service to public education that can be publically judged. The law requires it. And our children deserve it.
The reaction to the Wall Street Journal report that some standard opponents to BloomKlein were will to give the Cathie Black appointment a chance resulted in more than a bit of a reaction with other members of the SOS (Save Our Schools) coalition responding with some initial chagrin. People were real happy that Zikiyah Nasari assured them she was misquoted - gee, the WSJ shading a story?

Our report on CEJ, one of the leaders of the SOS coalition which includes GEM and CAPE yesterday (How far will CEJ bend?) also led to some phone calls and emails, one accusing me of helping BloomKlein by making it look like the opposition was divided.

SIDE NOTE: There's always a fine line between trying to be an activist/organizer and a semi-journalist and because I have access to lots of info I try - and not always successfully - to hold back certain things when necessary even though I am an advocate of the maximum openness possibly since the free flow of info is crucial to informing people of the full context of what is going on. On the CEJ issue, I have exercised a lot of restraint due to the respect I have for many of the people involved I have met, including Zakiyah.

Since Save Our Schools is a coalition, many of the partners had some consternation over Zakiyah Nasari's quote in the WSJ, even some outrageous charges about CEJ. Always suspicious by anything in the Journal, especially if it's written by Barbara Martinez on education - almost every article has an ideological bias - I did raise the point that this might be an intentional misquote in order to give the impression there was division in the opposition to the Black appointment in my piece yesterday. But I also was worried that CEJ might jump at a chance to get some of their program into play if an offer was made. I posted this the NYCEdNew listserve:
Some of these divisions have a historical context.
I wonder if some of the "jump to conclusions" issues emanate from the St. Vartas Church rally/protest (Feb. 28, 2007- the day Martine Guerrier was appointed to her new position)  aftermath where a May 1 rally that would have been a major event was undercut by a deal offered by BloomKlein. CEJ amongst others joined the UFT in making this deal.

Many warned that they would never adhere to what they agreed to. There is always danger in an offer by dishonest people who want to undercut any movement that is developing. I think some people may be concerned that if such an offer agreeing to parts or all of the platform is offered (always I believe with bad intent) as a way of undercutting resistance to the Black candidacy some might find it hard to refuse. These are standard bait and switch techniques we have seen used in the UFT (which led the deal with BloomKlein in 2007). I have felt that the May 1, 2007  proposed demo could have been a huge defeat for mayoral control and may have forced people to take a closer look before it was renewed and may in fact have scuttled Bloomberg's 3rd term. So my instant reaction was that Bloomberg would go back to the well and the WsJ article might be message of sorts with the quote being misused as an opening or just to divide people.

The UFT -which we know didn't really want to hold that rally (you could argue that without them it would have been scuttled anyway) could not have  made that deal alone unless other groups signed on. So this is not a black and white issue and is worth some closer examination - if anyone ever does a history of the last Bloomberg ed control years it could read like a novel. If anyone wants to take up the challenge I have almost 15 years of Ed Notes archives chronicling the Randi/Bloomberg years available.
A note: I was called by the editorial page of the WsJ and interviewed on Sept 24 when we held that rally. The questions were so tainted and loaded with intent that I had to be very careful with what I was saying and indeed worried later that I had mispoken in some way. While I speak to most reporters I'm not sure I would ever talk to the WsJ without saying everything is off the record.


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