Dear Commons Community,
The New York Times in a featured article and an editorial weigh in on the appointment of Carmen Farina as the new New York City schools chancellor. While commending her experience (unlike the chancellors of the previous twelve years), the authors of both pieces are trying to put brakes on any enthusiasm that she might bring to the office. They are cautioning her and soon-to-be Mayor Bill de Blasio on making major changes to standardized testing, teacher evaluations, and the Holy Grail of neo-liberal thinking, charter schools. Here is an excerpt from the editorial:
“Mr. de Blasio, who takes office on Wednesday, may soon find that his powers are constrained. The strict testing regimen in reading and math that has irked some parents and students across the city is for the most part enshrined in state and federal law. While Mr. de Blasio has sought to slow the growth of charter schools, he will not have the power to block their creation.
More broadly, Mr. de Blasio and Ms. Fariña, a longtime city educator from Brooklyn with a reputation for bluntness, will confront a national political environment on education that has shifted during Mr. Bloomberg’s tenure.”
The mandate of de Blasio’s election in November was a call not just for New York City but for the rest of the country that the school reform policies of Washington, D.C. under Arne Duncan and his predecessor, Margaret Spellings, have been failures. Their policies have promoted an uncreative, humorless, and dull agenda of reform that bashes the teaching profession while subjecting children and their parents to a plethora of tests and data that have resulted in no significant gains in student outcomes. Please Mr. de Blasio and Mrs. Farina maintain your vision and enthusiasm and take back our public schools for children, parents, and educators. Let Washington cater to the politicians, corporate interest groups, and lobbyists who have come to dominate national education policy.
I’m hopeful that this administration will focus on what really matters…the children