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Schools chancellor Joel Klein won't be missed

Ohanian Comment: Do not miss the front page of The Daily News.

Another Chicago/private school/corporate connection to the destruction of public schools. Note the different coverage by three papers. No surprise that Murdoch's New York Post slobbered in grief over Klein's departure. Here's their opening paragraph: Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, a hard-charging innovator who brought unprecedented national attention to the city as a model for urban public-school reform, shocked the education world yesterday by announcing his resignation.

Klein's new job is with Murdoch's NewsCorp.

NOTE: As Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, noted the outgoing chancellor, Joel Klein, was a government lawyer with no experience in leading an educational institution. Nor does Black have any such experience--not as a child, a parent, or an employee.

"It is unfortunate that once again, the mayor has chosen someone with no educational experience, except for sitting on the board of a charter school with teacher attrition rates of 42 to 71 percent, and a student suspension rate of 62 percent," said Haimson, who, you will note, is NOT quoted in The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.

Schools chancellor Joel Klein won't be missed - he lost the respect of teachers and parents alike

by Juan Gonzalez

New York Daily News

Though his departure was announced on Tuesday, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein's influence has been waning for some time.

You could tell the Joel Klein era was ending long before Mayor Bloomberg made it official on Tuesday.

It became clear one cold January night in the cavernous auditorium of Brooklyn Technical High School, during an extraordinary all-night meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy.

The panel, Bloomberg's rubber-stamp replacement for the old Board of Education, was about to approve Klein's proposal to close down 19 low-performing public schools and install several new charter schools in their place.

State law required the panel to go through the motions of a democratic process by holding a public hearing.

More than 1,000 angry parents and teachers filled the auditorium that night. The list of speakers seemed endless. Many gave eloquent defenses of their programs. Several begged for assistance from school district headquarters.

I was dumbstruck to see teachers and even assistant principals take their turns at the microphone and publicly berate their boss, Klein, for refusing to support neighborhood schools.

The chancellor, who spent long stretches of the meeting on his BlackBerry, walked out of the room at one point.

Suddenly, the entire auditorium rose in unison. Everyone began chanting: "Where's Joel Klein? Where's Joel Klein? Where's Joel Klein?"

The longer Klein stayed away, the louder the crowd became. Not until he sheepishly returned and took his seat did things quiet down.

When the panel finally got around to voting, it was near dawn, yet hundreds of people were still in the room.

That's when you realized the disconnect between advocates of Klein's regime and the countless parents and teachers who long ago grew weary of his autocratic and disrespectful style.

Klein's legacy is truly a Tale of Two Cities.

To Manhattan's wealthy elite, the city's longest-serving chancellor was "one of the most important transformational ... education leaders of our time." That's what Bloomberg called him Tuesday.

The chancellor, they say, fought aggressively to reduce the racial achievement gap in education, brought in scores of innovative charter schools and brought corporate management methods to a "dysfunctional" system.

But most New Yorkers simply do not agree that he succeeded.

Only 30% of city residents believe our public schools have improved under Klein and Bloomberg. So says a poll conducted last month by The Wall Street Journal, a paper owned by Klein's new employer, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Many critics now realize all those trumpeted state test score results over the past few years were grossly inflated.

They see how Klein's headlong rush for more charter schools spawned bitter neighbor-versus-neighbor battles for scarce space.

His constant reorganizations of the school bureaucracy only demoralized and confused the system's veteran employees, teachers say. The racial achievement gap has not significantly diminished.

In short, progress was hardly stellar when you consider the unprecedented increases in state funding for public schools in the past decade.

That night of the marathon meeting at Brooklyn Tech, it was apparent Klein had lost the confidence and respect of too many teachers and parents.

A few months later, a Supreme Court justice overturned his decision to close the 19 schools. Then came the revelations of the inflated test scores.

We will soon see if our new chancellor actually listens to parents and teachers once in a while.

Superstar Manager to Succeed Klein
by Barbara Martinez, Michael Howard Saul, and Russell Adams

Wall Street Journal

When Cathie Black takes the helm of the country's largest school system sometime next month, she'll be equipped with at least one high-level offer of assistance: from Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers.

"I'm a teacher and I'll help her," Mr. Mulgrew said Tuesday after Ms. Black was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to succeed Joel Klein. "We help people learn so that we can make lives better for children. I look forward to working with her."

In a press conference, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announces that New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein will be leaving his post. Courtesy Fox News.

Ms. Black, who will be the first woman to hold the position, declined interview requests and the Department of Education said she won't be available before she starts her new job. Among her biggest challenges is hammering out with Mr. Mulgrew a new teachers contract. The contract expired more than a year ago, and talks hit an impasse under Mr. Klein.

In addition to a shrinking revenue stream from the state, another big challenge Ms. Black faces is that she'll take over just months after the state changed proficiency scores for public-school students, a move that resulted in tens of thousands more students being deemed not proficient in math and English than the year before.

In New York City, the number of students scoring proficient in English was 42% this year; in math, it was 54%.

In Ms. Black, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he chose a manager that he believes can help New York City students prepare for college and beyond. He said Ms. Black "is a superstar manager who has succeeded spectacularly in the private sector. She is brilliant, she is innovative, she is driven."

Ms. Black, who attended private schools while growing up in Chicago, sent her children to private boarding school in Connecticut.

Her move to public service ends a four-decade run in publishing during which she helped launch what became the largest U.S. newspaper, USA Today; was the first female publisher of a weekly consumer magazine; and became known as the "First Lady" of magazines.

Ms. Black, 66 years old, began her publishing career as a sales assistant for Holiday magazine in New York. She later moved to New York magazine, where she was elevated to publisher in 1979.

In 1983, Al Neuharth, who had just launched Gannett Co.'s USA Today, tapped Ms. Black to oversee advertising sales for the national daily. As president and then publisher, Ms. Black was one of four or five people who transformed USA Today from a drain on Gannett's finances to one of the country's most profitable papers and, until recently, its largest.

"Without her, I doubt we would have made it," Mr. Neuharth said in an interview. The Wall Street Journal last year overtook USA Today in daily circulation.

Some questioned whether Ms. Black has the right experience to run nearly 1,600 schools with a $23 billion budget and the education of 1.1 million children at stake. Like Mr. Klein, she has no education-administration experience upon entering the job, but she has managed more than 2,000 employees while overseeing the financial performance and development of major magazines at Hearst.

"I am questioning the logic in appointing someone that has no experience in education--we need someone with experience in education to know how to guide this ship," said Council Member Robert Jackson, a Manhattan Democrat who is chairman of the council's education committee. "I would not put as the captain of the ship someone who has not navigated the waters to be in charge to take us across the ocean, especially in rough weather," he said.

Mr. Jackson, an opponent of mayoral control of the school system, also criticized City Hall for failing to discuss Mr. Klein's successor with him.

Ms. Black's book, "Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life)," was a business-book best seller. In it, she offers advice from how to behave at an office party ("Don't get drunk") to firing employees ("Do it quickly!").

Filled with examples of where she went wrong and right over her 40-year career, the book shows a woman driven to succeed despite obstacles.

"Of course, I've also worked with my fair share of jerks, which makes for some fun stories in this book" she writes. "I learned on the fly, making lots of mistakes and more than once inserting my foot firmly in my mouth."

New York Times

City's New Schools Chief Has Much in Common With Boss

NOTE: This story appeared on page A-28 and online comments aren't allowed.

By Jeremy W. Peters

Cathleen P. Black earned a reputation in publishing as a tough-minded chief executive who never left her employees guessing what she wanted. A student of management, she wrote a book about strategies for success in the corporate world. She thrived as head of a large media company, showing little interest in politics or a public-service job -- until, it seems, a big one suddenly opened up.

In other words, she is a lot like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who on Tuesday tapped Ms. Black, 66, the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, to be the next chancellor of the New York City school system.

Mr. Bloomberg, of course, also built his fortune in media and wrote a book about how he did it. And no one would ever accuse the mayor of being ambiguous when it comes to conveying his expectations of his staff. Ms. Black, at the news conference on Tuesday where she was introduced, made no pretense of having any experience in education. Similarly, Mr. Bloomberg was a political novice when he ran for mayor in 2001. His explanation for picking her sounded a lot like his original pitch for himself: "Cathie is a world-class manager."

Ms. Black, who was displaced this summer as president of Hearst Magazines, said that she was "very excited about this incredible opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our young people."

She will be the first woman to head the nation's largest school system -- as she was the first woman to lead the Hearst Corporation's magazine division and, way back in 1979, the first female publisher of a weekly consumer magazine, New York. In the 1980s, she was publisher of USA Today, charged with finding advertisers for what was then a radically new product.

"Without her, USA Today would likely have failed," said Allen H. Neuharth, the newspaper's founder, who described Ms. Black's management style as "aggressively diplomatic."

He added, "She was very careful to outline what was expected of people and then try to help them live up to that expectation."

At Hearst, she helped convince Oprah Winfrey it was time to extend her brand to publishing, personally visiting the talk-show host with a mockup of what was to become O, the Oprah Magazine -- one of the biggest success stories in the industry. When it became clear that Talk magazine, a joint venture with Miramax edited by Tina Brown, was unlikely to succeed, she shut it down despite loud objections from Miramax and its brash co-chairman Harvey Weinstein.

"If the stockroom has to be cleaned out and there's no one to do it, Cathie will roll up her sleeves and do it," said Valerie Salembier, publisher of Harper's Bazaar, a Hearst magazine. "The best thing about Cathie, after working with her all these years, is that you know exactly where you stand. She is very straightforward about what you could be doing or doing better."

Having grown up on the South Side of Chicago, where she attended Catholic schools, Ms. Black moved to New York -- she said Tuesday that was her "American dream" -- in 1966, after graduating from Trinity College in Washington. She has homes on Park Avenue and in Connecticut, where her children attended private boarding schools. She is married to Thomas E. Harvey, a longtime lawyer for the Institute of International Education, which promotes exchange programs, and a regular donor to Republican candidates and causes.

In a 2005 interview in The New York Times, Ms. Black, the youngest of three children, said: "A lot of the studies would say generally the oldest child is the most ambitious, but for some reason I sort of got those genes."

In her 2007 book,"Basic Black," she recalls photocopying her resume at the office of a job she was eager to move on from. An executive from the company later called her at home and said, "Next time you're duplicating your resume, Miss Black, I suggest you remember to take the original off the copier."

After 15 years at Hearst, Ms. Black suffered her first major and highly public setback this summer when David Carey, a rival from Conde Nast, was brought in to replace her as president of the magazine division.

Her departure apparently came as a surprise to colleagues at Hearst, as her appointment did to senior officials in the Department of Education. One senior education official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to talk to reporters, said many of the department's leaders learned of Ms. Black's selection right before it was announced, and few of them seemed to know anything about her.

At Hearst, Frank A. Bennack Jr., the chief executive, said in a memo to the staff that Ms. Black "goes with my blessing," but suggested he had expected her to stick around longer. "Cathie's handling of the transition with David, which admittedly we expected to take place over a longer period of time, has been exemplary," Mr. Bennack wrote.

One asset she brings to her new job: knowing how to deal with strong personalities.

"I've joked that if you can work for Rupert Murdoch and Al Neuharth, you can work for anybody," Ms. Black told The Times in 2005. Now she can add another media mogul to that list -- Mayor Bloomberg.

David Carr and Javier C. Hernandez contributed reporting.

— Juan Gonzalez, B. Martinez, M. H. Saul, R. Adams, J. Peters
Wall Street Journal & NY Times & NY Daily News




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