Black, Bloomberg Schools' Choice, Rebuffed
"Our schools deserve a trained, thoughtful educator with the experience and grounding in teaching and learning that can help bring New York City school to the educational excellence demanded in the 21st century," added Lisa Donlan
Today was a victory for NYC public school children, when the advisory panel appointed by Commissioner Steiner voted against granting a waiver to the person handpicked by the Mayor, Cathie Black.
They clearly listened to the voices of parents, educators, and the majority of New Yorkers, who believe that Ms. Black has none of the qualifications needed to lead the nation's largest school system. This overwhelming consensus culminated in a press conference late yesterday when parent leaders and advocates delivered bound copies of petitions with more than 13,000 signatures to Commissioner Steiner's private residence on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Steiner appeared to have taken their sentiments to heart when he responded with an email this morning, noting his appreciation for "the input from these members of the NYC community on the leadership of the city's public schools system."
"Public school parents thank the members of the panel and hope that Commissioner Steiner will look out for the best interests of those who matter most -- our children," said Said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters.
"We are gratified that the panel agreed that Ms. Black was not qualified to run our public schools, which after all, are not a business enterprise. We hope that now, the Mayor selects an experienced educator who has a passion for public education and a record of success in turning around schools. Simply putting an educator into the number two slot or co-chancellor is not good enough. A business manager can be number two -- but we need an educator at the helm. Especially given the threat of huge budget cuts to schools, and the possible laying off of 6,000 teachers, how could anyone justify dual chancellors, both at $250,000-plus per year?"
"Our schools deserve a trained, thoughtful educator with the experience and grounding in teaching and learning that can help bring New York City school to the educational excellence demanded in the 21st century," added Lisa Donlan, head of the Community Education Council in District 1. "If the last eight years have taught us anything it is that management schemes and reorganizations and market models do not help kids learn. We must put the education back in public education first and for most. The panel's decision was a first step in the right direction."
Chris Owens, parent and former President of Community School Board 13 in Brooklyn, put it this way; "Our advocacy has been somewhat successful, but our victory is incomplete. The advisory board has rejected Cathleen Black's candidacy for Chancellor, but the idea that a strong academic deputy is sufficient to approve Black would not be a victory for public education or for the rule of law. Instead, Mayor Bloomberg should now select a qualified Chancellor who could make Ms. Black the management deputy. As a matter of self-respect, Ms. Black should now withdraw her candidacy for Chancellor."
"A compromise of a Co-Chancellor to mollify the Mayor's hurt feelings is absolutely unacceptable, especially since six of the eight voted 'no confidence' in Ms. Black's ability to do the job," noted Mona Davids, parent and President of the New York Charter Parents Association. "Adding a number two person to create a co-chancellorship can only serve to create even more confusion in an organization that Klein is leaving in its usual state of chaos. Parents and citizens concerned for our children's future must keep saying no."
Noah Gotbaum, President of Community Education Council in District on the Upper West Side and part of west and central Harlem, said, "After eight years of being marginalized in the education of our children by mayoral control gone out of control, we hope that the 1.1 million students and their parents once again will be recognized as stakeholders in this system and will be included in the conversations about the directions of our kids and schools. The schools belong to the community of 8 million new Yorkers, not to one man."
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