Public school reform in the US is lately attracting a lot of money, intellectual energy, and education “outsiders” to run school systems.
In DC, we had the Michelle Rhee experiment which raised enormously high hopes and looked good on the big screen but divided the city and contributed to the mayor losing his job — though will continue in some sort of watered down form under his successor. School reform is also one area that the Republicans in the new Congress may be able to work with the Obama administration — that is, if they can work together on anything.
Now comes news that publishing executive Cathie Black, chairwoman of Hearst magazines, is taking over as chancellor of NYC public schools, one of the original hotbeds of reform. Chancellor Joel Klein is heading to News Corp.
Asked why he didn’t pick somebody with a traditional education background, the mayor said he wanted a chancellor who could build on what Klein started and prepare the city’s school children for the jobs of the future.
“Cathie is a world class manager,” added Bloomberg, who said he told Black as part of his job pitch that it was “a chance to change the world.”
Asked how much experience she’s had dealing with unions, Black conceded, “I’ve had limited exposure to unions.” She also acknowledged that two kids attended a boarding school in Connecticut, not city schools.
Ken Whyte interviewed Cathie Black a few years ago in Maclean’s about her experiences rising through the ranks, how she convinced Oprah to launch a magazine, and her advice for younger women.