Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Thankless Job?

So Cathie Black, to no one's surprise, has been granted the necessary waiver to serve as Chancellor. I stand by my position that I'm attempting to reserve judgment until she actually does something, but in the meantime, I'm going to continue to speculate about the situation, since it's all anyone is talking about anyway. Who wants to think about anything else with eighteen long school days remaining until the holiday break?

Like many people, I wonder, still, why Black wants this job. No one, herself included, is pretending that she has some kind of lifelong passion for education of any kind, public or otherwise. The public disapproves of the appointment, with many believing she's being brought on primarily to "right-size" the DOE. The highest echelons of state education administration have expressed serious reservations about her ability to do the job, such that they have insisted that she take on a specific deputy, Shael Polakow-Suransky, to serve as a Chief Academic Officer.

I think, if Ms. Black was a teacher, those around her would quietly begin to discuss the "counseling out" process. A lot of teachers don't make it, a fact that's well-known and silly not to talk about. The job is not right for everyone. That's not an admission of general incompetence, lack of intelligence, or lack of compassion; it's a simple statement of fact that not everyone makes it because it is not the right fit for everyone, even those who are well-qualified on paper or even lovely people with many lovely qualities in real life. It just doesn't work for everyone. Nothing you can do.

At this point, is this job a good fit for Ms. Black? Given a host of other choices, anyone from Michelle Rhee to Jesus Christ or anyone in between, would anyone who is not Mayor Bloomberg or one of his sycophants actually choose her, on purpose? And what is she going to get accomplished with this serious lack of support?

If I were Ms. Black, I would have graciously stepped aside weeks ago, saying that, after careful reconsideration, I found the job to not be a good fit and would have offered my support to a different candidate. Ms. Black could still do that, pointing to the excellent (or at least better) qualifications of Mr. Polakow-Suransky and expressing confidence in his ability to take on the job solo.

Why does she want this thankless job at this point? Seriously. I'm wondering.
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