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.


Weighing in

Parents rally to demand a voice in the search for New York City schools chief

PHOTO: Courtesy/Shino Tanikawa
Parents and ddvocates rallied on the steps of the New York City education department headquarters to call for a say in the search for a new schools chancellor.

The education department has made it a mission to boost parent involvement in schools. Now, parents are demanding a bigger role elsewhere: In the search for a new schools chancellor.

Parent leaders from across New York City took to the steps of the education department’s headquarters to demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio allow them to have a say in the process.

“For the mayor to deny parents the opportunity to represent the interests of our children in this critical decision is to ignore the voices of our most vulnerable, underrepresented New Yorkers,” Jessamyn Lee, co-chair of the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council, said in a statement.

Organizers say about 30 members from a range of parent groups gathered in the rain to call on de Blasio to follow through on a campaign promise made during his first run for mayor.

Before he was was first elected, de Blasio said the city needed a school leader who would be “presented to the public, not just forced down our throat.” But he went on to conduct a hushed search, pulling department veteran Carmen Fariña from retirement to become chancellor.

De Blasio recently won reelection for a second term, and, in December, Fariña announced plans to head back to retirement. This time around, the mayor has committed to a quiet, internal deliberation.

Among the organizations represented at the rally were the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council, which is made of leaders from school parent organizations; the Education Council Consortium, which represents members of the local Community and Citywide Education Councils; and the NYCKids PAC, a parent-led political committee. Those are not the only groups seeking more access and transparency in the hiring process. Advocates for different causes, including school integration efforts, have all called for the opportunity to weigh in.

One of those calls came this weekend in an online petition asking de Blasio to consider a well regarded state education official for the job. And the Coalition for Educational Justice, which held its own rally on Tuesday outside City Hall, is calling on the city to appoint a chancellor who “has a strong vision for racial justice in schools.” The organization has called on the city to focus on making sure that teachers have anti-bias training and that classrooms reflect all students’ cultures.

pre-k for all

New York City will add dual language options in pre-K to attract parents and encourage diversity

PHOTO: Christina Veiga
Schools Chancellor Carmen FariƱa, back right, visits a Mandarin pre-K dual language program at P.S. 20 Anna Silver on the Lower East Side.

Education Department officials on Wednesday announced the addition of 33 dual language pre-K programs in the 2018-19 school year, more than doubling the bilingual opportunities available for New York City’s youngest learners.

The expansion continues an aggressive push under the current administration, which has added 150 new bilingual programs to date. Popular with parents — there were 2,900 applications for about 600 pre-K dual language seats last year — the programs can also be effective in boosting the performance of students who are learning English as a new language.

Another possible benefit: creating more diverse pre-K classrooms, which research has shown are starkly segregated in New York City.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said the new programs reflect the city’s commitment to serving all students, even as a national debate rages over immigration reform.

“It’s important to understand that immigrants or people who speak a second language are an asset,” Fariña said. She called bilingual education “a gift that I think all schools should have.”

Included in the expansion are the city’s first dual language pre-K programs in Bengali and Russian, which will open in Jamaica, Queens, and the Upper West Side, Manhattan, respectively. The other additions will build on programs in Spanish, Mandarin and Italian. Every borough is represented in the expansion, with 11 new programs in Manhattan, nine in Brooklyn, six in Queens, five in the Bronx, and two on Staten Island.

In the dual-language model, students split their time between instruction in English and another language. At P.S. 20 Anna Silver, where the recent expansion was announced, pre-K students start the morning in English and transition to Mandarin after nap time. Experts say the model works best when the class includes an equal mix of students who are proficient in each language so they can learn from each other as well as the teacher, though it can often be difficult to strike that balance.

Officials and some advocates view dual-language programs as a tool for integration by drawing middle-class families eager to have their children speak two languages into neighborhood schools that they otherwise may not have considered. Research has shown that New York City’s pre-K classrooms tend to be more segregated than kindergarten. In one in six pre-K classrooms, more than 90 percent of students are from a single racial or ethnic background. That’s compared with one in eight kindergarten classrooms, according to a 2016 report by The Century Foundation.

Sharon Stapel, a mother from Brooklyn, said she knew early on that she wanted her daughter to learn another language and strike relationships across cultures. So she travels to the Lower East Side with her four-year-old, Finch, to attend the Mandarin dual-language pre-K program at P.S. 20 Anna Silver. On Wednesday, the city announced it will add a Spanish dual language program at the school.

“We really see it as how you build community with your neighbors and your friends,” Stapel said. “It was also an opportunity for Finch to become involved and engage in the cultures and in the differences that she could see in the classrooms — and really celebrate that difference.”

Citywide, about 13 percent of students are learning English as a new language. That number does not include pre-K since the state does not have a way to identify students’ language status before kindergarten. However, based on census data, it is estimated that 30 percent of three- and four-year-olds in New York are English learners.

Dual-language programs can benefit students who are still learning English — more so than English-only instruction. Nationally and in New York City, students who are learning English are less likely to pass standardized tests and graduate from high school. In one study, students who enrolled in dual-language courses in kindergarten gained the equivalent of one year of reading instruction by eighth grade, compared with their peers who received English-only instruction.

The city has been under pressure to improve outcomes for English learners. Under the previous administration, New York City was placed on a state “corrective action plan” that required the education department to open 125 new bilingual programs by 2013. Though the city fell short of that goal, the current administration has agreed to place every English learner in a bilingual program by the 2018-19 school year.

Among the greatest barriers to achieving that is finding qualified teachers, Fariña said. In some cases, it can be hard to find teachers who are fluent in the target language. In others, teachers who are native in a foreign language may only be certified in their home country, and it can be hard to transfer that certification to New York.

In order to open an Urdu program recently, Fariña said, the teacher, who holds a degree from another country, went through Teaching Fellows, an alternative certification program that usually caters to career-changers or recent college grads.

“I think the biggest challenge we have right now is ensuring our teacher preparation courses are keeping up with our need and demand for teachers who can teach another language,” she said.