Posts Tagged ‘John White’

NYC parents happy – NOLA parents sad

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

It’s a mixed news day for parents. children and schools.

New York City parents are celebrating the resignation of Schools Chancellor Cathie Black and her Deputy, John White. Black, who served less than 100 days, was a bizarre appointment by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who, like Chicago’s mayor, runs the schools. Black’s previous experience was in the publishing world (Hearst Publications, USA Today); she needed a waiver of all education requirements from the state legislature to become chancellor. (Of course, our legislature waived any and all CPS CEOs from such requirements in 1995.)

Black almost immediately alienated NYC parents when she suggested “birth control” as a remedy for overcrowded classrooms. Things went downhill from there.

White’s resume is not much more impressive than Black’s. But… New York’s gain is New Orleans’ loss. White is headed to The Big Easy to replace outgoing (and, from what I hear, already out-gone) Paul Vallas, who has set his sights on Chile next. apparently sparing Haiti, which had originally been in the path of Hurricane Paul. NOLA parents won’t miss Vallas, but aren’t pleased that his replacement was responsible for school closings and expanding charter schools in NYC. This doesn’t bode well for the two-tiered school system in New Orleans, where massive charter expansion is already destroying the neighborhood school system.

We congratulate NYC parents on their successful challenge of one bad school district leader – let’s hope that other mayors (or mayors-elect) are paying attention!

Getting off on the wrong foot with Rahm?

Friday, March 18th, 2011

My comment was, of course, the only cautionary message in today’s Tribune story about the mayor-elect’s CPS CEO search:

‘It’s too depressing to speculate,’ said Julie Woestehoff, executive director of Parents United for Responsible Education. ‘Everything that he has said points to his wanting to move even more aggressively into corporate-style school closures and punishing-teacher-type of reforms that haven’t been working.’

There goes my invitation to the inaugural ball.

But friends around the country are already warning us about some of the folks mentioned as potential picks.

For example, John White is a short-timer who has not been in the NYC school system for long, but I’ve been told that he has already managed to alienate parents. More on him later. I’m collecting some local info on Alonso and Gorman, too.

Jerry Weast just retired after 26 years as superintendent for Montgomery County, Maryland, schools. A local parent shared this artricle with me from today’s Washington Examiner on the search for a replacement for Weast:

Gaithersburg Middle School parents want Weast’s replacement to “focus beyond test scores, to create much more well-rounded students.”

“I really worry what will happen to students who are not strong in just math or reading,” the PTA president said.

Janis Sartucci, a leader of the Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery, said she wants a superintendent “that’s present. In my experience, Jerry Weast did not show up in schools unless with an entourage, and did not meet with students unless it was an organized publicity event,” she said.

The wish-list of Joan Sabaka, co-chairwoman of the Special Education Advisory Committee, is short and simple: She says she’d like Weast’s replacement to accept a meeting with her team. “We have begged him over the years by letters to come sit down and talk about special education, and he has refused [and offered lower staffers],” Sabaka said. “We were paying for his salary — we thought he had to meet with us, but he would never.”

But at least the Montgomery County School Board respects the community enough to allow them some input into the selection of a new superintendent (UPDATE: locals say it’s a sham process. SIGH.). From Chevy Chase (MD) Patch blog:

The board members have repeatedly expressed their desire for community involvement in the search process. In late January and early February, parents and county residents were invited to attend forums ┬áto share their thoughts on educational priorities and the desired leadership qualities of the next superintendent. Those who couldn’t make it to the meetings could participate in an online survey.

As you know, there’s a community-based superintendent search process going on here in Chicago, too. We hear they are making progress and will be reporting out soon. Rahm should welcome their input as he makes this important decision.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.