breaking news

Live-blogging Joel Klein's "sayonara"; hello Cathie Black

Cathleen Black, the new schools chancellor.
Cathleen Black, the new schools chancellor.

We’re live-blogging Mayor Bloomberg’s press conference right now at City Hall, announcing Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s resignation.

4:11 pm. Bloomberg’s last words to Black, he says, were to the point. “I told her what I tell everyone and that is, don’t screw it up,” he said.

4 pm. Asked what her greatest challenge will be, Black tells the press: “With the help of the eight deputies in the office, we will spend a good amount of time prepping me and making sure I understand all of the issues thoroughly. The change, the opportunity to make a difference, is really what has compelled me to want this position.”

3:53 pm. The next question is, What about a public search for such a public job? “I did have a public serarch and I picked the best person,” Bloomberg answered, inscrutably. He also said, “In the end, it is the mayor who picks the chancellor.” And he added, “I have looked for people of all backgrounds.”

Also: Who was the first person Black met in this process? Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew, Bloomberg declared.

“Mulgrew has met her,” Mulgrew spokesman Dick Riley just confirmed.

Black’s children went to private boarding school in Connecticut.

3:51 pm. The mayor et. al are now taking questions from the press, starting with, Why not an educator? “Joel has built an amazing staff of pedagogical experts. That’s not our problem here,” Bloomberg said.

He said the new chancellor’s expertise needed to be dealing with the tough economy. “Jobs, jobs, jobs. That’s exactly what Cathie Black knows about,” he said.

3:46 pm. Among Black’s first remarks: “New York has the best teachers in the country.” She is also running through the objectives Bloomberg announced at NBC’s Education Nation event, which did not sound at all different from Klein’s.

“My main goal will be to build on the work of the Bloomberg administration and chancellor klein’s tenure,” she said.

3:45 pm. Klein will remain on until the first of the year to help Black with her transition, Bloomberg said.

3:44 pm Klein to Black: “I also am comfortable in saying I’m leaving you the best team ever assembled in education.” This seems to indicate that his preference is for the eight deputy chancellors to remain in place after he leaves.

3:40 pm. Klein has accepted an offer form NewsCorp, Rupert Murdoch’s news organization, and will serve as executive vice president and on the board of directors. His main responsibility will be to “put them in the burgeoning and dynamic education marketplace. I do believe, as I said, that that is the future.”

“Cathie, let me congratulate you and thank you for taking on this important assignment,” Klein added, looking to Black, who is wearing black. Just saying.

“I also am comfortable in saying I’m leaving you the best team ever assembled in education,” Klein said to Black. This seems to indicate that his preference is for the eight deputy chancellors to remain in place after he leaves.

3:39 pm. Making his remarks, Klein hasn’t yet mentioned his next plans, although he did say, “To me education will always be at the core of my life’s work.”

3:38 pm. Black is the first woman to lead New York City’s school system, the largest in the country, our resident education historian Philissa Cramer just confirmed from Israel.

3:34 pm. Cathleen Black, who was president at the magazine publishing company Hearst, is the next chancellor of the New York City school systems. “I know the first thing she’ll want to do is reach out toparents, teachers, princpal and and adminsistartors to get the benefit of their wisdom,” Bloomberg said of her. He also said, “She is also someone who has had a long active, e ffort in civic affairs,” including work in youth literacy.

Chancellor Joel Klein exits as schools chancellor. He will move to News Corp, the news organization owned by Rupert Murdoch, where he will expand the company's education business.
PHOTO: KenExcellence on YouTube
Chancellor Joel Klein exits as schools chancellor. He will move to News Corp, the news organization owned by Rupert Murdoch, where he will expand the company

3:30 pm. In doling out credit, Bloomberg just named several top officials at the Department of Education — but mangled Chief Schools Officer Eric Nadelstern’s name. He also named Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott and Chief Operating Officer Sharon Greenberger, who is a recent appointee. Sources told me Greenberg was placed at the suggestion of the mayor.


money matters

Report: Trump education budget would create a Race to the Top for school choice

PHOTO: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos participate in a tour of Saint Andrews Catholic in Orlando, Florida.

The Trump administration appears to be going ahead with a $1 billion effort to push districts to allow school choice, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The newspaper obtained what appears to be an advance version of the administration’s education budget, set for release May 23. The budget documents reflect more than $10 billion in cuts, many of which were included in the budget proposal that came out in March, according to the Post’s report. They include cuts to after-school programs for poor students, teacher training, and more:

… a $15 million program that provides child care for low-income parents in college; a $27 million arts education program; two programs targeting Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students, totaling $65 million; two international education and foreign language programs, $72 million; a $12 million program for gifted students; and $12 million for Special Olympics education programs.

Other programs would not be eliminated entirely, but would be cut significantly. Those include grants to states for career and technical education, which would lose $168 million, down 15 percent compared to current funding; adult basic literacy instruction, which would lose $96 million (down 16 percent); and Promise Neighborhoods, an Obama-era initiative meant to build networks of support for children in needy communities, which would lose $13 million (down 18 percent).

The documents also shed some light on how the administration plans to encourage school choice. The March proposal said the administration would spend $1 billion to encourage districts to switch to “student-based budgeting,” or letting funds flow to students rather than schools.

The approach is considered essential for school choice to thrive. Yet the mechanics of the Trump administration making it happen are far from obvious, as we reported in March:

There’s a hitch in the budget proposal: Federal law spells out exactly how Title I funds must be distributed, through funding formulas that sends money to schools with many poor students.

“I do not see a legal way to spend a billion dollars on an incentive for weighted student funding through Title I,” said Nora Gordon, an associate professor of public policy at Georgetown University. “I think that would have to be a new competitive program.”

There are good reasons for the Trump administration not to rush into creating a program in which states compete for new federal funds, though. … Creating a new program would open the administration to criticism of overreach — which the Obama administration faced when it used the Race to the Top competition to get states to adopt its priorities.

It’s unclear from the Post’s report how the Trump administration is handling Gordon’s concerns. But the Post reports that the administration wants to use a competitive grant program — which it’s calling Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success, or FOCUS — to redistribute $1 billion in Title I funds for poor students. That means the administration decided that an Obama-style incentive program is worth the potential risks.

The administration’s budget request would have to be fulfilled by Congress, so whether any of the cuts or new programs come to pass is anyone’s guess. Things are not proceeding normally in Washington, D.C., right now.

By the numbers

After reshaping itself to combat declining interest, Teach For America reports a rise in applications

PHOTO: Kayleigh Skinner
Memphis corps members of Teach For America participate in a leadership summit in last August.

Teach for America says its application numbers jumped by a significant number this year, reversing a three-year trend of declining interest in the program.

The organization’s CEO said in a blog post this week that nearly 49,000 people applied for the 2017 program, which places college graduates in low-income schools across the country after summer training — up from just 37,000 applicants last year.

“After three years of declining recruitment, our application numbers spiked this year, and we’re in a good position to meet our goals for corps size, maintaining the same high bar for admission that we always have,” Elisa Villanueva Beard wrote. The post was reported by Politico on Wednesday.

The news comes after significant shake-ups at the organization. One of TFA’s leaders left in late 2015, and the organization slashed its national staff by 15 percent last year. As applications fell over the last several years, it downsized in places like New York City and Memphis, decentralized its operations, and shifted its focus to attracting a more diverse corps with deeper ties to the locations where the program places new teachers. 

This year’s application numbers are still down from 2013, when 57,000 people applied for a position. But Villanueva Beard said the changes were working, and that “slightly more than half of 2017 applicants identify as a person of color.”