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).Followed by Richard Barr
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
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.