Sunday, November 14, 2010

Press Conference at Tweed at 1PM Today to Oppose Black Waiver

The Black nomination is an abomination.

They're gathering at Tweed as I write this. I can't be there because I have an "Odd Couple" rehearsal soon. But some GEMers will be there to tape it. Leonie, Norman Seigel and others. We'll get reports later.

The UFT- don't get me started. Mulgrew is sitting on the fence. You know the Unity suckup line - say this while on your knees and kvetching - we may have to negotiate a contract with Black and we don't want to make her mad. I'll bet the UFT will try to take credit for Klein's leaving or being given the boot.
And of course for making the sun shine today.

Some of our friends have been critical of the waiver fight - calling it a distraction

I get it. I understand it's all about mayoral control and that fighting the Cathie Black nomination for Chancellor is a battle with a small "b". That even if we manage to defeat Bloomberg on the waiver question, he will appoint another suck-up Klein Klone. Even with credentials or a person of color, we will see no difference in policy as long as a mayor - not just this mayor but any mayor- controls the schools. I mean, if it was Eric Nadelstern I wouldn't expect his 40 years in the system to make him much better than Black once he signed onto the ed deform movement.

The reason this is worth fighting is that people seem to want to fight it. As an organizer, that is enough for me. Even if we lose, it might activate people in a way that they haven't been before (and if you think that signing the petition makes you an activist you are smoking something- show up at the PEP Tuesday night at Brooklyn Tech and become a real activist - and a Real Reformer.) Why not try to make Steiner and Tisch sweat - demo at the State Ed Dept. office anyone? I hope they give her the waiver and then try to tell teachers how much credentials they need.

But if we win - what a defeat for Bloomberg. And it's on to the BIG BATTLE over mayoral control that is coming up in 2013.

All the activist groups within the UFT (ICE, TJC, GEM, TEACHERS UNITE, NYCORE) are working together on some actions related to Black and beyond. Still in a state of flux but there is some sense of coming together on some fronts (as a pessimist I am not holding my breath) while working with parent and community activists on a bunch of stuff. Yesterday many gathered to hear the speakers from CORE in Chicago at the Teachers Unite function. Videos will be up very soon.

I like this fragment that Leonie sent:
“There's a difference between being a teacher and leading an organization that's focused on teaching,” says Becca Bracy Knight, executive director of the Broad Center. “You can have someone running a great symphony who isn't a concert violinist. It doesn't mean the violinist isn't important; it's just a different skill set.”
Leonie comment: But has there ever been an orchestra conductor who couldn’t play music?

And Paola de Kock said:
Accepting a pig in a poke because the alternative might be worse (as some seem to suggest) is not responsible citizenship. Why is the fight worth fighting no matter what the outcome? Because the issue goes beyond Cathie Black herself—she could be good, she could be bad, who knows? (though from all that’s been made public about her, the odds of her making a good chancellor are pretty long).

It’s about our petty despot simply calling one of his friends for a job on which the future of the city’s children depends.

It’s about the stunning arrogance of presenting someone with no apparent interest in education as the best qualified person to run our schools.

It’s about not even bothering to prep her before the press conference, so that she might at least pretend to have a vision beyond “100 more charter schools” and “technology” in the classroom.

It’s about peddling as self-evident the proposition that a business person supported by educators will make a great chancellor although the converse—an educator supported by business people—is at least equally plausible.

It’s about reducing education to a business dedicated to the production of a workforce instead of educated citizens who value curiosity, knowledge for its own sake, artistic expression and all that makes life worth living in addition to the technical competence required to hold down a job.

To all this we must say “no.”

Paola de Kock
Followed by Richard Barr
I've read a lot, but not every single piece that has been written on the subject since the Mayor announced his selection of Ms. Black for School's Chancellor, so forgive me if this point has already been made by someone --

It was said at the time that even though she had no background in education, she had the wonderful team of Deputy Chancellors that Joel Klein had assembled to provide her with whatever expertise she herself lacked.

Well, besides the fact that some of that team have already announced their departures since then and others will probably follow suit, the fact is that there has been an enormous exodus of career educators from the DOE since the Bloomberg-Klein regime took over. Either pushed out, or leaving of their own accord, after being sidelined or marginalized, to go elsewhere or take early retirement, they have been replaced, it seems, in the most part by people fairly new to educational administration in general and the NYC school system in particular, many of whom were trained as lawyers or M.B.A.s.

So the talent pool -- from the standpoint of longtime educators with experience on the ground in the NYC school system, who know how things work and what the issues are that should go into making appropriate decisions -- which a new and inexperienced Chancellor could draw upon for guidance and context, has probably not been as shallow as it is now at any point in our memories.

Richard Barr


Anonymous said...

Hey Norm,

Remember Robert Wagner? I was still in high school in the early to mid eighties. Look at his background and compare it to Black. Two individuals lacking the ed credentials but still worlds apart. Wagner was denied a waiver. Klein? and Now Black? So sick.

John Powers

BTW: The deformers talk about school choice for parents but never acknowledge that they the deformers actually do the choosing.

What a travesty?

Where's the UFT? Are they betting that this whole thing will blow up in Mayor Bloomberg's face and that somehow this will look better for the union. You know, the union will be seen as being "open-minded and fair and balanced." That the UFT/AFT has not come out with gloves swinging proves they will never fight for a true progressive vision of education...that they will never oppose the ruling elite and take on Wall Street....that they will never truly fight for community empowerment...that they are willing to sacrifice the future of our country and our democracy...that they are committed to a slow and sure suicide of the union and public education.



Anonymous said...

As a chapter leader, I couldn't agree with you more. The Great Implosion has yet to come.



While so much necessary time and energy are being spent to block Bloomberg's outrageous choice of Cathie Black for Chancellor, we must assume that if the Waiver is not granted, it is to be expected that Bloomberg's next choice will be equally inappropriate and uninformed.

In light of this fact, would it not be wise, useful and prudent for all groups opposing the choice of Cathie Black, to begin creating a list of ten or more names which all informed parties in the Education Community can agree would absolutely constitute first class choices to lead the largest Public Schools system in the nation.

While criticism of the Mayor's very poor judgment is both important and useful it is equally imperative that a positive, pro-active strategy now be initiated immediately in which it will be the Mayor who will be on the defensive to explain why he refuses to consider the first class candidates recommended to him by the Education community.

There are doubtless many individuals in the US who are ready, willing and able and possess the requisite expertise and integrity to serve as the next NYC Schools Chancellor.

Such an initiative would clearly place the Mayor in a position where he would not dare attempt to engage in "dejas vu", all over again, after the Waiver is denied and might even force the media, he controls to a large extent to admit and say:
"Yes- what about "so and so" to replace Cathie Black. S/he would represent a far wiser choice."

Now is the time to act in order to prevent a repeat of the present ugly and embarrassing fiasco.