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Controversial and unpopular NYC Schools Chancellor Cathie Black is stepping down after only three months on the job. Appointed by Mayor Bloomberg, over vociferous public protest, Black seemed an unlikely choice from the start. She has zero background in education and made her name as a publishing executive. It didn’t help her win over hearts and minds of the New York school community in one of her first public speaking appearances when she suggested birth control as the cure for the city’s serious school overcrowding problem. Her last reported approval rating was a chilly 17 percent. Bloomberg went to court and bent some rules to get his appointee installed. But apparently the people have spoken and Black is on her way out.
She will be replaced by Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott who was once the president of the board of education.
This comes on the heels of another fall from grace by another big name ed reform poster woman, Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the D.C. school district (and member of the Broad Foundation board of directors). Rhee’s alleged record of academic success during her controversial and very public tenure at D.C. has come under investigation. USA Today reporters have uncovered a pattern of erasures of student test answers in 103 schools which resulted in test score inflation. (Michelle Rhee: education reform huckster — the myth that schools are best run like businesses is emphatically demolished, Salon, April 6, 2010.)
How this scandal, which cuts to the heart of the credibility of Rhee’s national reputation for ed reform success, might affect Rhee’s newest venture, political lobbying effort StudentsFirst, remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, over in Rockford, Ill., controversial and unpopular School Superintedent LaVonne Sheffield (Broad Superintendents Academy class of 2002) was served with papers this morning in a defamation lawsuit, and rumors are circulating that she may be out soon too. BREAKING NEWS (as of 4/7/11): Sheffield has apparently resigned, reports the Rock River Times (and various readers in our Comments section below. Thanks for the heads-up everyone! — sp.).
All three superintendents have ties to the major moneyed ed reform players like the Broad Foundation or Michael Bloomberg. Not a good couple of weeks for the corporate ed reform crowd. But a potentially great couple of weeks for public school communities and the truth.
– Sue p.