Big news in New York
Wow! All sorts of big news in NYS yesterday, starting with Cathie Black's ouster. I think her heart was in the right place and she was trying hard, but she was in WAAAAAY over her head. The only good things that can be said about this debacle are: 1) Bloomberg recognized his mistake and pulled the plug quickly; and 2) Dennis Walcott is a great person for the job – and should have gotten it last year because there's no denying that much damage has been done. Bloomberg's political capital, especially as it relates to education, is depleted, which is dismaying given the tough fights we face on critical issues such as overturning LIFO, and it will be hard for the DOE to replace the human talent that's departed.
Lost in the news about Black's departure was the announcement yesterday by NYS ed commissioner David Steiner that he's leaving by the end of the year. Unlike Black, he wasn't pushed and his departure is a big loss, as he's been a powerful reformer, working closely with his deputy commissioner, John King. I haven't spoken with him, but I suspect the endless political battles wore on him. Given the vicious – and I use that word deliberately – tactics often employed by defenders of the status quo, reformers need to have absolutely extraordinary levels of stamina, patience, thick skin, and a willingness to do battle in dirty, muddy trenches every day. I know I couldn't do it – it drives me nuts just watching it!
Overall, nationwide, I feel like it's been a rough few weeks for education reformers. But I'm not discouraged. No sane person thought we were going to run the table. As I've said many time before, it's going to be a brutal slog that will last beyond my lifetime, and if we're really, really lucky, we'll advance in a 3-steps-forward, 2-steps-back manner. We've just been experiencing the latter in recent weeks…