breaking news

Live-blogging Joel Klein's "sayonara"; hello Cathie Black

Cathleen Black, the new schools chancellor.
Cathleen Black, the new schools chancellor.

We’re live-blogging Mayor Bloomberg’s press conference right now at City Hall, announcing Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s resignation.

4:11 pm. Bloomberg’s last words to Black, he says, were to the point. “I told her what I tell everyone and that is, don’t screw it up,” he said.

4 pm. Asked what her greatest challenge will be, Black tells the press: “With the help of the eight deputies in the office, we will spend a good amount of time prepping me and making sure I understand all of the issues thoroughly. The change, the opportunity to make a difference, is really what has compelled me to want this position.”

3:53 pm. The next question is, What about a public search for such a public job? “I did have a public serarch and I picked the best person,” Bloomberg answered, inscrutably. He also said, “In the end, it is the mayor who picks the chancellor.” And he added, “I have looked for people of all backgrounds.”

Also: Who was the first person Black met in this process? Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew, Bloomberg declared.

“Mulgrew has met her,” Mulgrew spokesman Dick Riley just confirmed.

Black’s children went to private boarding school in Connecticut.

3:51 pm. The mayor et. al are now taking questions from the press, starting with, Why not an educator? “Joel has built an amazing staff of pedagogical experts. That’s not our problem here,” Bloomberg said.

He said the new chancellor’s expertise needed to be dealing with the tough economy. “Jobs, jobs, jobs. That’s exactly what Cathie Black knows about,” he said.

3:46 pm. Among Black’s first remarks: “New York has the best teachers in the country.” She is also running through the objectives Bloomberg announced at NBC’s Education Nation event, which did not sound at all different from Klein’s.

“My main goal will be to build on the work of the Bloomberg administration and chancellor klein’s tenure,” she said.

3:45 pm. Klein will remain on until the first of the year to help Black with her transition, Bloomberg said.

3:44 pm Klein to Black: “I also am comfortable in saying I’m leaving you the best team ever assembled in education.” This seems to indicate that his preference is for the eight deputy chancellors to remain in place after he leaves.

3:40 pm. Klein has accepted an offer form NewsCorp, Rupert Murdoch’s news organization, and will serve as executive vice president and on the board of directors. His main responsibility will be to “put them in the burgeoning and dynamic education marketplace. I do believe, as I said, that that is the future.”

“Cathie, let me congratulate you and thank you for taking on this important assignment,” Klein added, looking to Black, who is wearing black. Just saying.

“I also am comfortable in saying I’m leaving you the best team ever assembled in education,” Klein said to Black. This seems to indicate that his preference is for the eight deputy chancellors to remain in place after he leaves.

3:39 pm. Making his remarks, Klein hasn’t yet mentioned his next plans, although he did say, “To me education will always be at the core of my life’s work.”

3:38 pm. Black is the first woman to lead New York City’s school system, the largest in the country, our resident education historian Philissa Cramer just confirmed from Israel.

3:34 pm. Cathleen Black, who was president at the magazine publishing company Hearst, is the next chancellor of the New York City school systems. “I know the first thing she’ll want to do is reach out toparents, teachers, princpal and and adminsistartors to get the benefit of their wisdom,” Bloomberg said of her. He also said, “She is also someone who has had a long active, e ffort in civic affairs,” including work in youth literacy.

Chancellor Joel Klein exits as schools chancellor. He will move to News Corp, the news organization owned by Rupert Murdoch, where he will expand the company's education business.
PHOTO: KenExcellence on YouTube
Chancellor Joel Klein exits as schools chancellor. He will move to News Corp, the news organization owned by Rupert Murdoch, where he will expand the company

3:30 pm. In doling out credit, Bloomberg just named several top officials at the Department of Education — but mangled Chief Schools Officer Eric Nadelstern’s name. He also named Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott and Chief Operating Officer Sharon Greenberger, who is a recent appointee. Sources told me Greenberg was placed at the suggestion of the mayor.


Betsy DeVos

To promote virtual schools, Betsy DeVos cites a graduate who’s far from the norm

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools in June.

If Betsy Devos is paying any attention to unfolding critiques of virtual charter schools, she didn’t let it show last week when she spoke to free-market policy advocates in Bellevue, Washington.

Just days after Politico published a scathing story about virtual charters’ track record in Pennsylvania, DeVos, the U.S. education secretary, was touting their successes at the Washington Policy Center’s annual dinner.

DeVos’s speech was largely identical in its main points to one she gave at Harvard University last month. But she customized the stories of students who struggled in traditional schools with local examples, and in doing so provided an especially clear example of why she believes in virtual schools.

From the speech:

I also think of Sandeep Thomas. Sandeep grew up impoverished in Bangalore, India and experienced terrible trauma in his youth. He was adopted by a loving couple from New Jersey, but continued to suffer from the unspeakable horrors he witnessed in his early years. He was not able to focus in school, and it took him hours to complete even the simplest assignment.

This changed when his family moved to Washington, where Sandeep was able to enroll in a virtual public school. This option gave him the flexibility to learn in the quiet of his own home and pursue his learning at a pace that was right for him. He ended up graduating high school with a 3.7 GPA, along with having earned well over a year of college credit. Today, he’s working in finance and he is a vocal advocate for expanding options that allow students like him a chance to succeed.

But Thomas — who spoke at a conference of a group DeVos used to chair, Advocates for Children, in 2013 as part of ongoing work lobbying for virtual charters — is hardly representative of online school students.

In Pennsylvania, Politico reported last week, 30,000 students are enrolled in virtual charters with an average 48 percent graduation rate. In Indiana, an online charter school that had gotten a stunning six straight F grades from the state — one of just three schools in that positionis closing. And an Education Week investigation into Colorado’s largest virtual charter school found that not even a quarter of the 4,000 students even log on to do work every day.

The fact that in many states with online charters, large numbers of often needy students have enrolled without advancing has not held DeVos back from supporting the model. (A 2015 study found that students who enrolled in virtual charters in Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin did just as well as similar students who stayed in brick-and-mortar schools.) In fact, she appeared to ignore their track records during the confirmation process in January, citing graduation rates provided by a leading charter operator that were far higher — nearly 40 points in one case — than the rates recorded by the schools’ states.

She has long backed the schools, and her former organization has close ties to major virtual school operators, including K12, the one that generated the inflated graduation numbers. In her first week as education secretary, DeVos said, “I expect there will be more virtual schools.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the location of the dinner.

expansion plans

Here are the next districts where New York City will start offering preschool for 3-year-olds

PHOTO: Christina Veiga
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, left, and Mayor Bill de Blasio, center, visited a "Mommy and Me" class in District 27 in Queens, where the city is set to expand 3-K For All.

New York City officials on Tuesday announced which school districts are next in line for free pre-K for 3-year-olds, identifying East Harlem and the eastern neighborhoods of Queens for expansion of the program.

Building on its popular universal pre-K program for 4-year-olds, the city this year began serving even younger students with “3-K For All” in two high-needs school districts. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he wants to make 3-K available to every family who wants it by 2021.

“Our education system all over the country had it backwards for too long,” de Blasio said at a press conference. “We are recognizing we have to reach kids younger and more deeply if we’re going to be able to give them the foundation they need.”

But making preschool available to all of the city’s 3-year-olds will require an infusion of $700 million from the state or federal governments. In the meantime, de Blasio said the city can afford to expand to eight districts, at a cost of $180 million of city money a year.

Funding isn’t the only obstacle the city faces to make 3-K available universally. De Blasio warned that finding the room for an estimated 60,000 students will be a challenge. Space constraints were a major factor in picking the next districts for expansion, he said.

“I have to tell you, this will take a lot of work,” he said, calling it “even harder” than the breakneck rollout of pre-K for all 4-year-olds. “We’re building something brand new.”

De Blasio, a Democrat who is running for re-election in November, has made expansion of early childhood education a cornerstone of his administration. The city kicked off its efforts this September in District 7 in the South Bronx, and District 23 in Brownsville, Brooklyn. More than 2,000 families applied for those seats, and 84 percent of those living in the pilot districts got an offer for enrollment, according to city figures.

According to the timeline released Thursday, the rollout will continue next school year in District 4 in Manhattan, which includes East Harlem; and District 27 in Queens, which includes Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Ozone Park and Rockaways.

By the 2019 – 2020 school year, the city plans to launch 3-K in the Bronx’s District 9, which includes the Grand Concourse, Highbridge and Morrisania neighborhoods; and District 31, which spans all of Staten Island.

The 2020 – 2021 school year would see the addition of District 19 in Brooklyn, which includes East New York; and District 29 in Queens, which includes Cambria Heights, Hollis, Laurelton, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens and St. Albans.

With all those districts up and running, the city expects to serve 15,000 students.

Admission to the city’s pre-K programs is determined by lottery. Families don’t have to live in the district where 3-K is being offered to apply for a seat, though preference will be given to students who do. With every expansion, the city expects it will take two years for each district to have enough seats for every district family who wants one.