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Friday, November 12, 2010

Chancellor's Realm

Here in NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has appointed Cathy Black as new school's chancellor. Already opponents are saying she's not qualified because she's never been an educator, doesn't have appropriate education credentials (degrees and the like).

The Mayor obviously prefers to run the schools with what he considers to be excellent managers, people who have a proven record of leading large groups of people toward organizational goals--in the world of business.

This appointment raises many questions:

Would a potential chancellor benefit from experience in teaching and running schools?

Does knowing something about how kids learn, how they grow intellectually and emotionally help us organize large numbers of teachers and administrators toward being successful in school and beyond?

Do we not have anybody within a school system across the US with leadership credentials to govern the NYC public schools?

Does an "outsider" have more potential for effecting change within a very complex organization than and "insider"?

Can such a person create a strong team of educators to school her in the complexities of curriculum, instruction, school change/management, negotiating with unions and setting a vision for the future?

These are some of the questions we might ask about Bloomberg's choice.

His choice seems to say that anybody like Gerstner (formerly IBM chief), Iacocca (Chrysler), Gates/Balmer (Microsoft) or Mulally (Ford) could lead the NYC school system.

It makes an educator like me take pause, wonder about what it takes to lead a complex organization of professionals who pride themselves on knowing how to challenge students to become deeply involved, intellectually and emotionally, in their own learning, setting goals for their own improvement, asking good questions and pursuing thoughtful answers.

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