State education commissioner, David M. Steiner buckled to the demands of Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to issue on Monday the waiver to Cathie Black to be the 2nd NYC Schools Chancellor under mayoral control as reported in the NYTimes today.
A 38-year-old career educator, Shael Polakow-Suransky, a former high school principal described as a "top official at the city's Department of Education" to be named to a chief academic officer position being created for him in a deal Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch had helped to broker. Even the ex basketball player turned U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan meddled in the negotiations, communicating with both Steiner and the Mayor his approval of the deal.
The media indicated many of the job duties listed on the newly created position "would normally fall to the head of a school system" meaning the chancellor. And the 10 page letter Bloomberg sent to Steiner simply reiterates the first one asking for the waiver except the newly created job for Mr. Polakow-Suransky attached. Senior Deputy Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer sounds like too much responsibility for someone as young as Mr. Polakow-Suransky only obtaining his School District Administrator certificate in 2006, while only two years ago in 2008 trained at the Broad Superintendent's Academy.
Again, why hurry the process to place someone into this position another white person 2nd in command in a city school district as diverse as the NYC Schools with 80% minority students? Why not search for other candidates for this new job? Interestingly, Mr. Polakow-Suransky is a fellow of the Broad Superintendency Academy that billionaire Eli Broad founded in 2002, "to transform urban school districts into effective public enterprises..."
Some critics in the press already viewed his job as a gofer between Bloomberg and the nearly septuagenarian Cathie Black at 66, the former executive of Hearst Magazine. And State Assemblyman Hakeem S. Jeffries, opposed to the arrangement publicly said, "he would pursue a legal challenge." Others like "City Councilman Jumaane Williams said he had hoped the mayor would scrap Ms. Black’s nomination altogether." Also, blogger and educator Mike Klonsky Small Talk blog had an interesting write up about the controversy.
This battle is not over those 11,000 people who signed the petition don't plan to give up the fight. Commissioner Steiner's decision to give Black the waiver added credence to her opponents previously whom alleged the appointment a done deal from the beginning. And from the first day Mrs. Black already acted like a chancellor after the Mayor appointed her wasted no time obtaining a NYC department of education e-mail address meeting with the officials and deputies in the New York City Department of Education.
Even though four of the eight member panel didn't recommend her for a waiver, Mrs. Black decided she needed an assistant according to the letter Bloomberg sent to Commissioner Steiner and he said it was her idea to choose Mr. Polakow-Suransky because she decided she wanted only one person reporting to her directly. I'm wondering what those twelve deputies policy-makers think about how she already set-up this chain of command without consulting them?
Commissioner Steiner assumed his official duties on October 1, 2009, after the NYS Board of Regents elect him NYS Education Commissioner and President of the University of the State of New York.
This controversy showed that mayoral control has to be revisited too much power has been invested in one individual politician with little input from the public and others with vested interest in public education in NYC. And the advocates of privatization fully entrenched in the education system in New York State from the State Education Department, the Regents, to the NYC Schools in its new Chancellor Cathie Black
Yet, one of her critics issued a letter regarding her role as a board member in the Coca Cola Company saying, she "lacks the integrity and compassion to serve as Chancellor or a role model for young people," because the corporation was run "like a criminal syndicate with impunity."
And, "Cathleen Black and the company have profited greatly by aggressively marketing to children nutritionally worthless and damaging beverages that help fuel the obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes epidemics," Ray Rogers, director of The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke signed the letter.
Some believe when the conversation turns to her role on the Coca Cola board Mrs. Black may not be able to ask for an apology as easily as the one involving her controversial appointment as the NYC Schools Chancellor.
Ironically in light of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke and the long nearly 20 year tenure Mrs. Black had on the board of directors, Bloomberg's letter indicated in small print on the bottom Mrs. Black still has to take up her child abuse training credit hours and a violence prevention workshop