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Betsy Gotbaum warns Arne Duncan not to believe all about NYC

This piece of news slipped through the cracks last month, but it seems newly relevant in light of Mayor Bloomberg’s visit to the Oval Office yesterday: In the wake of gushing visits by Arne Duncan, Obama’s new education secretary, to New York City schools, Betsy Gotbaum, the city’s public advocate, sent Duncan a cautionary note last month.

“While we both agree generally that the Mayor should retain control of the school system, I would caution against focusing too much on the data provided by the Department of Education,” Gotbaum wrote to Duncan in a letter dated April 27. “I have always said that it is a fundamental flaw that the current system gives the Mayor and the Chancellor an incentive to present information in a positive light.”

Gotbaum, who first reported the letter on her blog, enclosed a copy of the report on school governance that she commissioned and the accompanying book, which was published by the Brookings Institution.

For what it’s worth, a slightly curious thing about the visit to D.C. yesterday is that only three men entered the Oval Office with President Obama: the Rev. Al Sharpton; Newt Gingrich, the former House majority leader, and Michael Bloomberg. Joel Klein, who is a co-creator of the Education Equality Project with Sharpton, appeared later with the men outside the White House to speak to reporters, but he did not enter the Oval Office.

Gotbaum’s full letter is after the jump:

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