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.


weekend update

How the education world is reacting to racist violence in Charlottesville — and to Trump’s muted response

PHOTO: Andrew Dallos/Flickr
A rally against hate in Tarrytown, New York, responds to the violence in Charlottesville.

For educators across the country, this weekend’s eruption of racism and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, offered yet another painful opportunity to communicate their values to families, colleagues, and community members.

Many decried the white supremacists who convened in the college town and clashed with protesters who had come to oppose their message. Some used social media to outline ideas about how to turn the distressing news into a teaching moment.

And others took issue with President Donald Trump’s statement criticizing violence “on many sides,” largely interpreted as an unwillingness to condemn white supremacists.

One leading education official, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, followed Trump’s approach, criticizing what happened but not placing blame on anyone in particular:

DeVos’s two most recent predecessors were unequivocal, both about what unfolded in Charlottesville and whom to blame:

Leaders of the nation’s two largest teachers unions responded directly to Trump:

The American Federation of Teachers, Weingarten’s union, is supporting vigils across the country Sunday night organized by chapters of Indivisible, a coalition that emerged to resist the Trump administration. The union also promoted resources from Share My Lesson, its lesson-plan site, that deal with civil rights and related issues.

“As educators, we will continue to fulfill our responsibility to make sure our students feel safe and protected and valued for who they are,” Weingarten said in a statement with other AFT officials.

Local education officials took stands as well, often emotionally. Here’s what the superintendent in Memphis, which is engaged in the same debate about whether Confederate memorials should continue to stand that drew white supremacists to Charlottesville, said on Twitter:

Teachers in Hopson’s district return for the second week of classes on Monday. They’ve helped students process difficult moments before, such as a spate of police killings of black men in 2016; here’s advice they shared then and advice that teachers across the country offered up.

We want to hear from educators who are tackling this tough moment in their classrooms. Share your experiences and ideas here or in the form below. 

Betsy DeVos

‘Underperformer,’ ‘bully,’ and a ‘mermaid with legs’: NYMag story slams Betsy DeVos

PHOTO: New York Magazine
A drawing of DeVos commissioned by an 8-year-old starts the New York Magazine article.

A new article detailing Betsy DeVos’s first six months as U.S. education secretary concludes that she’s “a mermaid with legs: clumsy, conspicuous, and unable to move forward.”

That’s just one of several brutal critiques of DeVos’s leadership and effectiveness in the New York Magazine story, by Lisa Miller, who has previously covered efforts to overhaul high schools, New York City’s pre-kindergarten push, and the apocalypse. Here are some highlights:

  • Bipartisan befuddlement: The story summarizes the left’s well known opposition to DeVos’s school choice agenda. But her political allies also say she’s making unnecessary mistakes: “Most mystifying to those invested in her success is why DeVos hasn’t found herself some better help.”
  • A friend’s defense: DeVos is “muzzled” by the Trump administration, said her friend and frequent defender Kevin Chavous, a school choice activist.
  • The department reacts: “More often than not press statements are being written by career staff,” a spokesperson told Miller, rejecting claims that politics are trumping policy concerns.
  • D.C. colleagues speak: “When you talk to her, it’s a blank stare,” said Charles Doolittle, who quit the Department of Education in June. A current education department employee says: “It’s not clear that the secretary is making decisions or really capable of understanding the elements of a good decision.”
  • Kids critique: The magazine commissioned six portraits of DeVos drawn by grade-schoolers.
  • Special Olympics flip-flop: DeVos started out saying she was proud to partner with the athletics competition for people with disabilities — and quickly turned to defending a budget that cuts the program’s funding.
  • In conclusion: DeVos is an underperformer,” a “bully” and “ineffective,” Miller found based on her reporting.

Updated (July 31, 2017): A U.S. Education Department spokesperson responded to our request for comment, calling the New York Magazine story “nothing more than a hit piece.” Said Liz Hill: “The magazine clearly displayed its agenda by writing a story based on largely disputed claims and then leaving out of the article the many voices of those who are excited by the Secretary’s leadership and determination to improve education in America.”