BUH-BYE Black

April 8, 2011

And she’s out! On Thursday morning Cathleen Black stepped down from her position as New York City school Chancellor. It has been a rocky road for Ms. Black-to say the least. Since the get-go Black has been highly criticized for not having the proper experience for this job. While Black was immensely successful as the former chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, her education background is limited. The Wall Street Journal noted that it is challenging to jump from the business world to the world of public opinions and polls. While this may be true, I don’t find myself empathetic: if you are not ready to fly don’t jump!

While Black may not have had much/any prior experience, her time as Chancellor was far from smooth. She made a “quip” that birth control would in fact help make classrooms less crowded! This is not only offensive, but also totally inappropriate. Does Black know that diarrhea of the mouth is not a real ailment, and people- ESPECIALLY THOSE IN PUBLIC OFFICE- cannot say WHATEVER they think? The Wall Street Journal (see below) tried to paint public officials as sympathetic people, after all they have SO many responsibilities: they have to answer to constituents, watch what they say in public, and yes, sometimes get picked on. For lack of a better word: DUH! These are obvious responsibilities that come with being in public office; you have to answer to the PEOPLE!  Perhaps city officials have been throwing themselves pity parties, and that is why our Education system has fallen apart? In any case, this article was utterly ridiculous…I expect more from the Wall Street Journal.

Check out the Full Article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704630004576249200526796910.html

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First a deputy chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, Mr. John White, and then the New York City schools chancellor Ms. Cathleen P. Black, and now Dr. Steiner?  Is this just coincidence or have they all simply given up?  Come August, the New York state education commissioner, David M. Steiner, will be resigning from his position.  Dr. Steiner was the one of the only officials to publicly announce his doubts about Ms. Black as chancellor, but eventually he gave his approval with trust that Mayor Bloomberg knew what he was doing.  He now has to approve Mr. Dennis M. Walcott before he can succeed Ms. Black in office.

Throughout the past two years that he has been in office, he has been aiming to reinvent state tests as well as elevate the curriculum in New York State schools.  He also has been trying to make New York eligible for a federal grant called Race to the Top by attempting to make mass multiple reforms.   Dr. Tisch, the chancellor of the State Board of Regents, said in a statement that: “As commissioner, he has delivered.  In the weeks to come, the board will begin an orderly transition and continue to move forward with our reform agenda.” So at least one of his developments seems to be progressing.  He is leaving with unfinished new state tests, a new set of standards for teaching curriculum (which has yet to be announced), and a new system of teacher certification and evaluation.  He is leaving to try and take on the national education issues, but what will happen if the country’s largest school system, New York City, falls apart?  Did all of these top education officials just happen to leave at the same time, or is this the work of the media trying to get all of the bad news about the New York education system out at once to mask the true details of what is happening?

Further Reading:

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/state-education-chief-to-step-down/?src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fnyregion%2Findex.jsonp

It’s been three months into her new job as the New York City schools chancellor an Cathleen Black has yet to get public approval. According to the NY1 Marist poll released this week, it was found that the new chancellor is not very popular throughout the city. In fact the poll revealed that the public was not very fond of the new chancellor.

The poll was taken by telephone in March and included 772 adults. The results were the following; 23 percent of adults had either never heard of her or were not certain of ever hearing of her, only 17 percent of adults approved of her.Back in February, the same poll was taken to ask New York City adults what they thought of the chancellor’s performance, those results were the following  only 21 percent approved of her performance, while 35 percent did not even know who she was. As told by Dr. Miringoff director of  the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, “She’s getting slightly better known, but not better received”.

Chancellor Cathleen Black is certainly liked  and known less than the previous chancellor, but there are various reasons for this. The first reason being is that she lacks Education experience. As it is known Mr. Shael Polakow-Suransky had been appointed as chief academic officer to work side by side with Ms. Black  because of her lack of experience. The second reason being that she has not made many public appearances. Not only does the public not approve of her position because of lack of experience,she also does not seem to connect with them. Could the reason for this be that most of the time she had made appearances she had committed a couple of blunders her first weeks in office? Such as her remark that a resolution to over crowded schools in Lower Manhattan would be birth control. Although it was all in good humor, it seems like people took offense to it, clearly resulting in low approval rates.

There is certainly a lot left for this chancellor to do. She has already been in office for 100 days and New Yorkers still don’t seem to like her. Because she has experience as a business woman and not an education official, it is no wonder why the public doubts her potential. People need action and proof  that this new chancellor will do her best to repair the state of New York City schools. There is only one advice she needs to take as result of these polls, that one being SHAPE UP CHANCELLOR!

for further readings and poll listings:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/05/nyregion/05poll.html?ref=education

The NY education budget is being cut next year due to overall state budget cuts, and with this, teachers are being cut and superintendents’ savings are getting taken but what does this mean for the students?  The answer to this may partially be found in the NY education construction budget—which as of right now is not looking so hot.  The New York Times reported a new construction aid cap that will reduce the number of schools to be built greatly.  Last year the state approved for 56 new schools to be built to accommodate for about 28,000 students, but now due to budget cuts only 26 schools can be built and only 14,000 new students can be accommodated.  Where will these students go, the already overcrowded NY classrooms?  This segues right into one of the most problematic situations facing the NY education system today, the rapid increase of class size.    There is already a state waiver for about 1,635 schools to mandate class size reduction targets, but will this be enough?  The class size issue seems to be a long-time issue and now that we know expansion cannot happen because construction budgets have been cut it appears that a solution is no where to be found. I guess this has turned into a call of action—it is now time to put on our thinking caps and figure out how to find a solution to this dilemma.

More Information About the New York Times Article at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/nyregion/22schools.html?ref=education

During the past weekend, governor Andrew Cuomo put forth a tentative proposal to cut New York states’ budget spending. It appears that the governor has good intentions with trying to help the state come out of this budget crisis, however, there are a few gaps to his proposal. First and foremost, Governor Cuomo has proposed cutting budgets that aid to health care and education in the state of New York. The deal calls for a year to year cut of about $2 billion of spending in health care and education. It is said that this cut will reduce year to year spending by 2 percent. However, the governor has agreed to add $ 250 million to his executive budget proposal to fund for schools, human services, higher education, and  the blind and deaf, and prescription drugs for the elderly. On the other hand, the proposal did not mention a “millionaires’ tax”, as said by Billy Easton , executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education said, his refusal to tax the rich hurts students immensely; ” Governor Cuomos’ first budget makes heartlessly large cuts to our schools to finance cuts for millionaires and billionaires, and students in poor and middle class districts  will lose the most educationally”. It seems that the governor is sympathizing with millionaires rather than with students, which as we know it, are the future of tomorrow. The proposal was successful in not adding any new taxes, however it does not include an extension of the states rent regulation, as well as the surcharge on income tax. Indeed there is still a lot of work for the governor to do in order for his plan to work without it hindering quality education for the future of tomorrows’ New York students.

For further reading:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/28/nyregion/28budget.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=education

“We should be waking them up to what is inside themselves!” says Sir Ken Robinson, a creativity expert, international advisor and public speaker who has been an advocate for arts in education with many published works, as well. He expresses this in an incredible animated video, which you can watch here along with many other fascinating points.

Reforming education systems all over the world has been. Some have even made several of these reformations. In the United States they include: more standardized testing, teaching these tests and not much else, and cutting out important academic programs, among them art and history. This kind of restructuring creates a stale environment for children in classrooms and the result is that students have little opportunity to develop interest in anything else aside from the core parts of standard education. Granted, there are districts, schools, classrooms, and teachers that go above and beyond, but for many this is the norm.

Robinson argues that the arts are an aesthetic experience where students, or anyone for that matter, can be present in the current moment and feel alive. Sadly, we have failed to do this because, in New York State, we push the passing of the Regent exams and only that. Because we all know that if you can’t pass a few major tests there is no way you’ll be able to succeed in life.

What seems to be the main point is that we should not just reform education, it should be revolutionized. Education as we have known it has traveled this winding path of testing, testing, testing leading us to a dead-end. I understand that this approach may be a little over the top, but if we don’t start thinking about education this way, I fear that we many never come to a solution.

So, should we start driving down this Revolutionary Road? As a future educator, I definitely think so. I have a Chevy Bronco. Anyone need a lift?