Friday, April 8, 2011

GEM Statement on Cathleen Black, David Steiner, and the Appointment of Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott

Posted at the GEM blog.
(Last modified, Friday, April 8, 11PM)

It is Time to Break the Cycle

Since 2003, public school parents, children, educators, and community members have endured a dictatorial public education reform agenda that has ignored and marginalized their voices and has undermined and destabilized the schools they depend on, love, and serve. The departure of Cathleen Black highlights the incompetence, arrogance, and political nature of Bloomberg’s educational agenda; this is not about children first, but rather a blind belief in the corporate reform movement propelled by a centralized, top down system that has been destructive for our schools and our children.

It is time for a break in the power structure that has a strangle hold on our public education system; it is time for parents, children, educators and communities to have a say in the education of their 1.2 million school children.

The departure of four Deputy Chancellors in the last 100 days along with the admission by Mayor Bloomberg that the appointment of Black as Chancellor was a mistake, followed by the announced departure of the State Commissioner of Education on Thursday, makes it clear that the almost decade long mayoral control and corporate reform experiment that has ignored the voices of parents, teachers and community has been a failure for the entire educational community. The growing movements against school closings and the privatization of education have helped to expose these failures.

In the coming months our schools face severe cuts, testing is raging out of control, charter schools will attempt to expand by invading more schools, a campaign to close schools continues, dedicated educators are under attack, and our children’s education is at stake. Decisions about the lives of children, like the choice of leaders of the school system, should not be made without their parents, their communities and their teachers. We have little confidence that newly appointed Chancellor Dennis Walcott will be any more than the extension of the same policies with a different face. It is time for Mr. Bloomberg and the Department of Education to engage with parents, treat them as partners and provide the leadership and policies that truly do put children first.

The Grassroots Education Movement supports the Deny Waiver Coalition in their preference for a transparent and nationwide search process for a qualified Chancellor to run our school system. We believe that Mr. Bloomberg and our future Chancellor should fight for real reforms that will transform our public education system. They could begin with a moratorium on school closings, turnarounds, and charter co-locations. Reforms should include parent and teacher empowerment, more teaching, less testing, and the equitable funding needed to make sure our schools are responsive to, and the centers of, the communities they serve.

The Bloomberg ship is sinking. The last nine years under Mayor Bloomberg has been a sea of destructive and misguided educational policies. It is time for our children to be thrown a life raft. It is time for Bloomberg to be held accountable. It is time for a sea change.

See Leonie Haimson on Walcott  posted on Norms Notes where she says:
unless Walcott (and the Mayor) change course, show that they are willing to follow the law, listen to parents and other stakeholders, and alter the policies that are damaging our kids, I do not  believe that the mayor’s abysmal approval ratings will increase substantially.  I hope that this appointment means a real shift in direction, rather than simply a PR move, but we will have to see.

While I agree with the tone of both Leonie's and GEM's statement, I have a different slant and won't wait and see if it's not simply a PR move because no one changes teams in the middle of the game and Walcott is on the wrong side and will not change. I don't want Bloomberg to have a final say in choosing a Chancellor or if possible, any say at all. We need separation of politics and education. Mayoral control must end ASAP. Better no chancellor than one appointed by Bloomberg. Our old friends at the UFT, which took no stand opposing Black - as outrageous as the appointment itself from my point of view – support and will continue to support mayoral control forever - with just some tweaks added. We are fighting a 2-front war. Ed deformers on one side and the UFT/AFT at our backs. Really, a 3-front war - corporate, government and our own union. We need more air support than the Libyan rebels.

Oh, and good ridence to that Meryl Tisch suck-up David Steiner. The day he was appointed I attacked him and people chastised me for not giving him a chance. They don't get that the person doing the appointing is the key, not the appointee themselves. No one appoints someone who will change the direction they want to go in. Tisch is Bloomberg's next door neighbor and had Joel Klein ask the 4 Questions at her Passover sedars. Guess which side she is on?

Ravitch debates Canada on NY1 - Oh, what a bullshitter he is.

Andy Wolfe nails them in a piece at the Daily News.
"Bloomberg seems to believe that those who toil at the hard business of educating children are the problem. He is wrong."

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it time that the citizens of NYC start a RECALL movement of his Imperial Highness, Mr. Bloomberg?

It's obvious that he's not fit to carry out his illegally gotten third term effectively, in light of his two latest fiascos- the blizzard of December 21010, and Cathie Black.

What are we waiting for?

Unknown said...

Sorry for the typo: Make that "2010"!