A long-time educator known for quietly challenging the Bloomberg administration even when she was a part of it, and for doing so with success, is expected to join the state’s governing board of education.
Kathleen Cashin, a professor at Fordham University and former school support network leader, has been nominated for the Brooklyn position on the New York State Board of Regents, according to several Brooklyn members of the State Assembly. The 17-member board acts as a powerful school board for all of New York State, setting policy on graduation requirements and, more recently, commissioning an overhaul of the state’s standardized tests.
It’s not clear how Cashin’s likely appointment — she is expected to be confirmed at a joint session of the Senate and Assembly next week — will affect the board’s dynamics. Led by Chancellor Merryl Tisch, the board has sometimes infuriated city officials by calling their test scores and graduation rates into question while, at other times, it has validated some of former Chancellor Joel Klein’s efforts to link students’ data to their teachers.
During her decades of working in the city schools, she rose from being the principal of P.S. 193 The Gil Hodges Elementary School to the leader of the Knowledge Network Learning Support Organization, one of the groups that schools hire for support. She became especially well-known for her success as the superintendent of region five — a now-defunct version of a school district — where her schools posted some of the largest gains on the state tests.
Despite her rise through the department’s ranks, Cashin never fully embraced the Klein administration’s philosophy. A firm believer in the idea that principals need a strong supervisor, she disagreed with administrators who wanted to give principals full autonomy to control their schools and budgets. According to a New York Times profile:
She provides her principals, for instance, with a detailed road map of what should be taught in every subject, in every grade, including specific skills of the week in reading and focus on a genre of literature every month.
“I think she recognized that there are things that went on in the old days that were very good and we didn’t need to be reinventing the wheel,” said Brooklyn Assemblyman Alan Maisel, who backed Cashin’s candidacy for the Regents seat.
“She’s innovative but at the same time, but she doesn’t give up on what works,” he said.
In addition to Cashin, two other people are expected fill vacancies on the board next week. They will replace Regents Saul Cohen and David Bowman. Cashin will replace Brooklyn Regent Karen Brooks Hopkins. Most of the board’s members — 13 of them — represent different judicial districts throughout the state and four are “at-large.”
Cashin could not be reached for comment.