Any assessment of the move by Bloomberg to replace Black has to be weighed against the question: Does it increase the democratization of schools?
The answer so far is “no”. The culprit is mayoral control. Our only hope is that Walcott can convince the mayor to put his ego aside and accept the fact that his educational policies are a failure. We want more stakeholder control, we want smaller class sizes, real curricular choices, assessments that are multifaceted and fair, and fixing schools to strengthen communities rather than breaking them up.
However, with mayoral control all we can do is hope our actions can convince an arrogant ego, who bought a third term, to change his mind.
Therefore, Walcott is probably only a change in style, but not substance.
People just don't seem to get it. The problem is not with who is the chancellor but in how the chancellor is chosen. So even though Dennis Walcott seems to be a thousand times more able than Cathleen Black, he will still be implementing a corporate reform agenda that is doomed to fail. Walcott will bring a slick and savvy look to the table and in fact if Bloomberg had any sense he would have appointed Walcott as Chancellor in 2002. Same results, but at least Walcott would have modified some of the voices of dissent increasingly emerging from the Black and Hispanic communities.
The very idea of the Black appointment, which some thought was akin to Caligula appointing his horse to the Roman Senate (HorseBlack Riding), was Bloomberg's way of dissing just about anyone who had any validity as an educator. Someone suggested on a listserve that he might as well appoint daughter Georgina's horse as chancellor. So even though Walcott has much more gravitas than Black, given Walcott's absolute and total support for the ed deform agenda, you might as well replace Black's face with Walcott's. (Get going photoshoppers.)
Former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern had "One piece of advice for Mr. Walcott: Call Diane Ravitch and Sol Stern. You don't have to do everything they say, but you should listen to them carefully. They can tell you a lot about the system for which you are now responsible. They are not bound by the mistakes of the past, and neither should you be. There are over a million children out there for whom you should be a great hope. Do everything you can not to let them down."
Sure, Henry. Hasn't Walcott been part of the process of shutting out voices like Stern and Ravitch? By the way, no matter how much I admire and like Diane and Sol, these are not the people I would urge Walcott to listen too. How about actual parents and teachers who do the work with kids? The feeling that somehow policy people know more than people on the ground is what has ailed education for far longer than the time mayoral control came into effect.
Last night, News 4 NY reported from Nutley, NJ on Dennis Walcott's appointment as Cathie Black's replacement. Why Nutley? Because that town's school board, unlike NYC's one-man school dictatorship, has been conducting a formal public search for a new superintendent of schools._____________
I have incorporated this small fact into my latest blog posting, "Be Like Nutley?" on the NYC Public School Parents blog. Please check it out for more at http://nycpublicschoolparents.
blogspot.com/2011/04/be-like- nutley.html .
On another topic, check out this article. Praise and condemnation for Joel Klein.