Dear Commons Community,
The New York Times is reporting that Shael Polakow-Suransky, currently the Deputy New York City Schools Chancellor, will become Bank Street College’s new president.
“Shael Polakow-Suransky, who helped lead an overhaul of city schools under former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and became an advocate of more rigorous and routine testing, will become the next president of Bank Street College of Education, the school will announce on Tuesday [today].
Mr. Polakow-Suransky, 42, the second-in-command at the city’s Education Department under the previous two chancellors, will take charge of Bank Street on July 1, becoming its seventh president, after the retirement of Elizabeth D. Dickey. He will be the first alumnus of the school, which was founded in 1916, to serve as president.
He is leaving the Education Department after the appointment last month of a new schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, who has yet to name a team but has made clear her intention to break from the policies of the Bloomberg era.
At Bank Street, located in Morningside Heights, Mr. Polakow-Suransky hopes to offer more opportunities for the school’s 1,000 graduate students to test their skills in classrooms and receive guidance from experienced educators, he said.
“There’s a real opportunity here to define what teacher education should look like,” Mr. Polakow-Suransky said in a telephone interview.
He added that he would work with the city to train more teachers in early childhood education, as Mayor Bill de Blasio pushes a plan to offer prekindergarten classes for all 4-year-olds.
Mr. Polakow-Suransky was born in South Africa, attended an experimental high school in Ann Arbor, Mich., and studied education at Brown University.
After serving as a teacher and principal in New York, Mr. Polakow-Suransky became a top official in the city’s Education Department in 2004, where he was a rare hybrid: a staunch defender of testing who spoke frankly about the limits of data. He called tests necessary exercises but argued that they should be of higher quality and more nuanced, incorporating essays and classroom projects.
Mr. Polakow-Suransky ascended to the department’s No. 2 position in 2010, when Mr. Bloomberg appointed Cathleen P. Black, a magazine executive, as chancellor, and he stayed on in that role after Ms. Black resigned in 2011 and was replaced by Dennis M. Walcott. He was once considered a candidate to be the city’s next schools chancellor, but his strong ties to Mr. Bloomberg made him an unlikely choice for Mr. de Blasio, who campaigned in contrast to the former mayor.
Mr. Polakow-Suransky said that he had considered staying on under Ms. Fariña, whom he met when she taught a Bank Street course in 1999, but felt drawn to a new challenge. He will most likely leave the department in four to six weeks.
In a statement, Mr. de Blasio offered praise for Mr. Polakow-Suransky.
“He’s a true educator whose commitment to the city’s students over the last two decades has been remarkable,” he said. “We look forward to working together for many years to come.”