Joel Klein resigned from his position as Chancellor of NYC public schools. Bloomberg intends to replace Mr. Klein with Cathie Black, a publishing executive with no education experience. Bloomberg's move is breathtaking in its stupidity, but given past appointments of his and his general approach, it's hardly surprising.
In this astute take on this series of events, education journalist Dana Goldstein asks, "Why on Earth" Bloomberg would appoint someone with Black's lack of qualification, and even lack of stated interest in education reform? Well, maybe because Bloomberg thinks the business model can successfully apply to running public institutions and that market-based solutions will bring success in education reform? I don't know, though, it could be that he is just an idiot. Goldstein points out the "irony" of Bloomberg appointing someone who will ostensibly help NYCPS graduates gain the skills they need to attain jobs when the industry from which Black hails is "hemorrhaging" jobs.
According to this, even parents who supported Klein are questioning this appointment. The founder of New York Charter Parents Association, Mona Davids, sounds skeptical here, as well (the expansion of charter schools was a huge part of the Klein/Bloomberg agenda): "She was surprised by Black’s appointment." As to the NYC charter school where Black sits on the board: "And, the board meetings are not public. Black sits on a board that is not accountable, that is not transparent, so for me it doesn’t bode well."
Now, turning to Klein, he is taking a job as an executive vice-president at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, you know, the same News Corp that owns Fox News. According to a blog at Education Week:
"He will join News Corp., the media company founded by Rupert Murdoch, as an executive vice president reporting directly to Murdoch. He also will join the company's board of directors. In a press release, the company said that Klein would advise on a number of issues, including development of business strategies for the 'emerging educational marketplace.' "Somehow the "development of business strategies for the 'emerging educational marketplace'" at the home of Fox News doesn't sit well with me. Will the likes of Glen Beck and Sean Hannity of Fox News take a break from bashing climate change science to embrace teacher bashing and the market-based, privatizing education reforms advocated by the Obama administration, but more importantly by conservative ideologues like Broad and Walton, and libertarian-leaning (it seems to me) billionaire Gates? But Fox News doesn't promote market-based, right-wing ideology, does it? Fox News doesn't promote reducing the government's role (though not government dollars, of course) in American institutions and life, does it? Fox News doesn't have any influence, does it? If we thought bleeding-heart hack Nicholas Kristof got education wrong, we'd better just wait and see.
I realize that I probably sound like a conspiracy theory-crazed lunatic. Believe me, in this case I'd much rather be crazy than right.
UPDATE 1: Here's Juan Gonzalez's (of the NY Daily News) take on Joel Klein's tenure and departure.
UPDATE 2: I've been thinking all day: What is up with Joel Klein becoming Darth Vader? What happened to that guy? How does someone go from being an anti-trust lawyer at the Justice Department to being the grim reaper of public education? Anyone? (If you have a theory, please comment on my next post dedicated to the topic.)