Another non-educator named head of education

BREAKING NEWS

Joel Klein is out. Cathleen Black is in as Chancellor of New York City public schools. Who is Cathleen Black? Here’s her bio from the Coca Cola Board of Directors website:

Cathleen P. Black has been a Director of The Coca-Cola Company since 1993. Ms. Black is Chairman, Hearst Magazines, a unit of Hearst Corporation, a major media and communications company. Ms. Black has been a Director of Hearst Corporation since January 1996. She served as a Director of the Company from April 1990 to May 1991, and was again elected as a Director in October 1993. Ms. Black is a Director of International Business Machines Corporation.

I hope New York City schools improve. I’d have more confidence if an educator was in charge, not a media mogul.

The business sector thinks they can run schools the way they run corporations, which means a laser focus on data points, like profit margins and test scores. Data matters, of course, but only when you’re looking at meaningful data. Education leaders imported from the private sector (New York’s own Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein are prime examples) tend to fixate on year-to-year movement on high-stakes test scores. I suspect Cathie Black will follow suit. The reductive focus on these flawed state tests hurts kids. The achievement gap in New York has not meaningfully budged under Mayor Bloomberg and his first non-educator chancellor.

A reformer with a career in classrooms would bring much more expertise and understanding about the on-the-ground reality for students. I hope I’m proven wrong.

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