It's teacher hunting season!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Black, the NYC Dept of Education CEO-designate faces multiple conflict of interest challenges

Employees of a potential Cathie Black-headed New York City Department of Education are wondering whether she will be a Miranda Priestley, continuing Joel Klein's authoritarian rule.

Good government-minded New Yorkers have another area of concern: financial self-interest. I am making the Miranda Priestley/ The Devil Wears Prada reference because she has headed the Hearst Corporation for over a dozen years. Black faces conflicts of interest, as a recent head of Hearst and potential DoE chancellor. For her company's magazines included teen and young women-market magazines, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire --Magazines which encourage young women to be Kendall Jenners, valued for their looks rather than their intellectualism.

A chancellor is supposed to influence some good values for her teen charges. But do we not see some conflicting concerns here: witness Cosmo's photos and article topics, and contrast those with the reality of New York City high school student sexual behavior, i.e., see Study finds risky behavior among teens, reporting on an article in the journal Pediatrics. (Actually, I have linked this Associated Press story to a Boston Globe site, instead of USA Today, another previous employer of Black.)
Take a peek at Black's home.

As the Department of Education purchases thousands of computers, there is also Black's computer conflict of interest. She sits on the board of directors of IBM.

Then, there is her Coca Cola interest. She sits on that corporation's board of directors as well. The schools have drink and snack vending machines. Is Coke's Dasani bottled water in those vending machines?

And lastly, we should be vigilant about the charter school conflict of interest, of which bloggers have made greater note. Her charter school connection is her only professional or philanthropic connection with education. She recently ("a few months ago") was appointed to the National Leadership Board of Harlem Village Academy's charter school network. (As Steve Koss notes at the "NYC Public School Parents" blog, she has not yet attended any meetings of this board. You can see where her heart --wallet-- lies.) Co-chair of the Academy board is none other than Rupert Murdoch, boss-titan of the News Corporation, outgoing chancellor Joel Klein's new employer. Albeit, this information has not yet made it to Black's wikipedia biography article.
* * *
I commented with some cynicism at another's blogpost to the idea of opposing Bloomberg. But Bloomberg's chumming with catered society party benefits style of government does not mesh as easily as controlling the New York State Assembly, which appoints the Board of Regents, which appoints the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education, David Steiner.
So far, Senators Bill Perkins and Carl Kruger and incoming Senator Tony Avella, along with State Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo have publicly opposed granting Black a waiver from state requirements that school superintendents have education backgrounds. GothamSchools reports that Crespo is considering offering legislation preventing such waivers in the future. (At least some of these elected officials have issued public letters to Commissioner Steiner. See Senator-elect Avella's letter to the commisioner.)

Halliburton Dick Cheney and Mike Bloomberg got away with interlocking government. Will Commissioner Steiner or the New York State representatives put a stop to this by blocking such waivers?

Assemblyman Crespo's letter to Commissioner Steiner on chancellor/ superintendent waivers from NYSED prerequisites for having an education background:

Dear Commissioner Steiner,

Yesterday’s announcement of the resignation of NYC School Chancellor Joel Klein and the decision by Mayor Bloomberg to appoint Ms. Cathleen P. Black as his successor has raised some troubling issues for which I write to request your clarification.

It is my understanding that Mayor Bloomberg has requested a “waiver” from the State Education Department for approval of Ms. Black’s appointment. What then is the current policy or requirements for state approval of a candidate for the position of Chancellor?

Furthermore, if a candidate lacks a particular academic or experience requirement, what criteria and process is used to approve a “waiver’ of said requirement?

While I agree that Ms. Black’s management experience in the private sector is truly commendable, I am gravely concerned that with so many changes underway and more proposed for our City’s education system, we must be careful to set aside long standing state policy in ways that would not be afforded to other high level positions. In this regard, I am currently exploring legislative remedies that would address these circumstances in the future.

Your assistance in clarifying these questions will help me understand and explain to my constituents, why someone with no education background is selected to run one of the nation’s largest school systems during such a critical time.


Marcos A. Crespo
Member of Assembly

No comments:

Post a Comment