The hilarious Cathie Black [above] is out as chancellor of the New York City school system, a job she could only have obtained in a society addicted to glitz as a substitute for content and run by billionaires like Mayor Bloomberg.
Black was a magazine editor who critics said had no clue about education or schools, and she proved them right in record time. According to a faintly devastating New York magazine profile, she worked her way up the Hearst food chain through a relentless focus on looking good in every sense and an ambition that could chew through metal plate. She was consistent in her exit interview, complaining to the New York Times today that the photos they used of her during her three-month tenure were unflattering.
Only a mayor in the grip of delusion could have thought that this high society babe, with kids in private schools and a summer home in the Hamptoms, was the right saleslady for his campaign to crush teachers and blot out opposition from pesky black and Latino parents who logically might also want the ‘best’ for their children’s education. Black was a p.r. disaster and an embarrassment, and according to the reports on her ouster, a lousy manager. She also moaned that learning about the mammoth city DOE was like a weekend course in speaking Russian, which prompts the question, Why did you take the job?
Her replacement, Dennis Walcott [behind Bloomie], immediately showed how the game is played by appearing for his first photo ops walking his cute grandson to school in Queens. But Walcott is a loyal Bloombergian and slipped in the code words about the ‘best teachers’ into his first mumblings. This is the wedge that is being aimed at teachers’ collective bargaining rights from sea to shining sea as displayed most dramatically in Wisconsin over the last few weeks.
Bloomberg’s ratings are in the toilet, and we can only hope that his weakness will cramp the nasty campaign to pin the city’s social ills on educators. But anyone expecting that other actors will be let into the dialogue about what to do with schools is dreaming.
Meanwhile, Michelle Rhee [right], the nasty piece of work and conservatives’ darling who tried to bulldoze her way Bloomberg-style through Washington, D.C.’s school system, was shocked, shocked, to find that some schools were falsifying test scores. After denouncing the messenger for this bad news, Rhee then backpedaled. Golly gee, who wudda thought someone whose livelihood depended entirely on their kids’ getting the answers right on a test would ever think to cheat?