To be or not to be…experienced

| November 10, 2010

On Tuesday November 9th New Yorkers found out that Joel Klein, New York City Schools Chancellor, had resigned from his post. He will be moving on to Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. In his place, Bloomberg has elected to appoint  Catherine Black, the Executive Vice President of the Hearst Corporation.

Does anyone else see something strange here? Klein’s experience in the public school classroom was supposedly a brief stint in sixth grade math. Black has no experience in the classroom, but she’s one heck of  a manager. She has soared at USA Today and at Hearst Magazines, where she launched popular magazines like Oprah Winfrey’s O.

I think it is great that Ms. Black is a beloved executive vice president of Hearst. It sounds like she is really good at her job, and she probably has a lot of passion for it. But, I for one, was pretty annoyed when I heard Bloomberg’s justification of Ms. Black as Chancellor because she is “a world-class manager.”  OK. But what about her lack of experience in the classroom? What about the fact that children, their families and communities are not numbers or clients? What about that, Mr. Mayor? “In the end, it is the mayor who picks the chancellor.” Thanks for the clarification.

My purpose in writing this post is to test the waters: what do you think about this appointment? Black herself mentioned that she lacks experience in education or with teacher unions. She also asked if the public would be patient with her while she learned about her new job.  Would this be an acceptable request from any other public servant in New York City? Would this be an acceptable request from a doctor or a cop?

Please write in your comments. I’m really curious to know what people have to say about this issue. And, if you want, you can also (ahem, I’m clearly showing my bias here) sign this petition to deny the waiver that will officially appoint Ms. Black.  Where will our schools be in three years? Where do you want to see our schools in three years?

As for me, only the magic 8 ball holds the answers: “Reply Hazy – Try Again Later.” Aww, nuts!