The scoop

Theoretical Board of Ed that may exist tomorrow gets 1st member

Courtesy of the Bronx borough president's office
<em>Courtesy of the Bronx borough president's office</em>

No one can accuse Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. of being unprepared for the possibility that mayoral control will expire tonight. Diaz just named his potential appointee to the theoretical Board of Education.

That person is Dr. Dolores Fernandez, a professor of urban education at CUNY’s Graduate Center who retired as president of Hostos Community College in 2008.

Fernandez’s appointment will become effective at midnight tonight if the 2002 mayoral control law expires and the Senate does not pass a law to replace it.

Diaz said in a statement today that he is “a supporter of some form of mayoral control.” Asked if Diaz would recommend that his appointee to the board vote to retain Joel Klein as chancellor, John DeSio, a spokesman for the borough president, would not comment yesterday. “He has mixed opinions on the chancellor,” DeSio said.

Fernandez could not immediately be reached for comment. In a release put out by Diaz’s office, she said:

“For me, it is an honor to be thought of by Borough President Diaz to represent The Bronx on the Board of Education. I look forward to serving our borough, and its children, in an admirable and professional way.”

Between 1988 and 1990, Fernandez was deputy chancellor for instruction and development for the Board of Education. She served under chancellor Richard Green, the system’s first black chancellor, who died suddenly a year into his tenure of an asthma attack, leaving the school system in disarray. Fernandez has a Master’s in Education and a professional diploma in Educational Administration.

The full press release follows.

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT RUBEN DIAZ, JR ANNOUNCES HIS APPOINTMENT FOR THE BOARD OF EDUCATION

Dr. Dolores Fernandez will be the Bronx representative on the newly reconstituted Board of Education, effective following the sunset of mayoral control on July 1.

Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., announced the appointment of Dr. Dolores Fernandez as the Bronx representative on the newly reconstituted Board of Education, effective following the sunset of mayoral control on July 1.

A resident of City Island, Dr. Fernandez had served as the president of Hostos Community College from 1998 until her retirement this year. She currently serves as a professor of urban education at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center in Manhattan.

“Though I am a supporter of some form of mayoral control, and I am disappointed that the current law was allowed to expire, the business of our children is too important to wait for Albany to act. Dr. Fernandez is a highly qualified, well respected educator with a long resume of accomplishments, and she will be a strong voice for the over one million public school children of the City. I am proud to appoint Dr. Fernandez to the Board of Education, and I look forward to working closely with her to craft an ambitious education agenda for the students of The Bronx and all five boroughs,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

“For me, it is an honor to be thought of by Borough President Diaz to represent The Bronx on the Board of Education. I look forward to serving our borough, and its children, in an admirable and professional way,” said Dr. Fernandez.

In addition to her work at Hostos Community College, Dr. Fernandez served as deputy chancellor for instruction and development for the Board of Education under Chancellor Richard R. Green from 1988-1990. Dr. Fernandez also served as director of education and deputy commissioner for program services for the New York State Division for Youth under Governor Mario Cuomo. An educator since 1978, Dr. Fernandez has also served as a teacher in Queens District 29, as well as the Long Island communities of Long Beach and Hempstead, during her career.

Dr. Fernandez graduated cum laude from Nassau Community College, earned a B.S. in Education from The State University of New York (SUNY) at Old Westbury, and received a Master’s in Education, as well as a professional Diploma in Educational Administration, from Long Island University (LIU) – C.W. Post College. She then earned her Professional Diploma in Reading and her Ph.D., in Language and Cognition from Hofstra University.

Rise & Shine

While you were waking up, the U.S. Senate took a big step toward confirming Betsy DeVos as education secretary

Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as education secretary is all but assured after an unusual and contentious early-morning vote by the U.S. Senate.

The Senate convened at 6:30 a.m. Friday to “invoke cloture” on DeVos’s embattled nomination, a move meant to end a debate that has grown unusually pitched both within the lawmaking body and in the wider public.

They voted 52-48 to advance her nomination, teeing up a final confirmation vote by the end of the day Monday.

Two Republican senators who said earlier this week that they would not vote to confirm DeVos joined their colleagues in voting to allow a final vote on Monday. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska cited DeVos’s lack of experience in public education and the knowledge gaps she displayed during her confirmation hearing last month when announcing their decisions and each said feedback from constituents had informed their decisions.

Americans across the country have been flooding their senators with phone calls, faxes, and in-person visits to share opposition to DeVos, a Michigan philanthropist who has been a leading advocate for school vouchers but who has never worked in public education.

They are likely to keep up the pressure over the weekend and through the final vote, which could be decided by a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence.

Two senators commented on the debate after the vote. Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who has been a leading cheerleader for DeVos, said he “couldn’t understand” criticism of programs that let families choose their schools.

But Democrat Patty Murray of Washington repeated the many critiques of DeVos that she has heard from constituents. She also said she was “extremely disappointed” in the confirmation process, including the early-morning debate-ending vote.

“Right from the start it was very clear that Republicans intended to jam this nomination through … Corners were cut, precedents were ignored, debate was cut off, and reasonable requests and questions were blocked,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Week In Review

Week In Review: A new board takes on ‘awesome responsibility’ as Detroit school lawsuits advance

PHOTO: Erin Einhorn
The new Detroit school board took the oath and took on the 'awesome responsibility' of Detroit's children

It’s been a busy week for local education news with a settlement in one Detroit schools lawsuit, a combative new filing in another, a push by a lawmaker to overhaul school closings, a new ranking of state high schools, and the swearing in of the first empowered school board in Detroit has 2009.

“And with that, you are imbued with the awesome responsibility of the children of the city of Detroit.”

—    Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens, after administering the oath to the seven new members of the new Detroit school board

Read on for details on these stories plus the latest on the sparring over Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos. Here’s the headlines:

 

The board

The first meeting of the new Detroit school board had a celebratory air to it, with little of the raucous heckling that was common during school meetings in the emergency manager era. The board, which put in “significant time and effort” preparing to take office, is focused on building trust with Detroiters. But the meeting was not without controversy.

One of the board’s first acts was to settle a lawsuit that was filed by teachers last year over the conditions of school buildings. The settlement calls for the creation of a five-person board that will oversee school repairs.

The lawyers behind another Detroit schools lawsuit, meanwhile, filed a motion in federal court blasting Gov. Rick Snyder for evading responsibility for the condition of Detroit schools. That suit alleges that deplorable conditions in Detroit schools have compromised childrens’ constitutional right to literacy — a notion Snyder has rejected.

 

In Lansing

On DeVos

In other news