It would be reasonable for Schools Chancellor Cathie Black to be alarmed by the rapid exodus of the Department of Education’s top deputies.
After all, when her predecessor Joel Klein handed over the reins last November, he declared, “I also am comfortable in saying I’m leaving you the best team ever assembled in education.” Mayor Bloomberg also emphasized that he was confident that Black could get past her lack of education experience by leaning on her deputies.
Now four of those deputies have left or are about to. John White, deputy chancellor for talent, labor, and innovation, is set to be named superintendent of schools in New Orleans. Santiago Taveras, deputy chancellor for community engagement, left earlier this week for the private sector. Eric Nadelstern, a top educator who had been with the department for nearly 40 years, retired abruptly n January. And Photeine Anagnastopoulos, the department’s finance guru, tendered her resignation the day after Klein’s.
But Klein said earlier this week that he is not worried about Black’s ability to recruit new talent to the department. In fact, he said, the exodus could be a boon for Black, if she sells it right. “The message is come to New York and you’ll be on your way to a superintendency,” he said.
Klein also said high-level departures are par for the course in organizations like the DOE. “You know, it just happens. It’s a tribute to the city, but it happens. And it happened to me,” he said. “And it’s very hard to say to somebody you can’t do your thing.”
In addition to White, two other one-time Klein deputies are seen as prospects to take on vacant superintendent positions in the half-dozen urban school districts with vacancies. Jean-Claude Brizard, superintendent of schools in Rochester, N.Y., and Baltimore schools chief Andres Alonso both bulked up their resumes in Klein’s cabinet and are now “being recruited in multiple venues,” Klein said.