Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Will de Blasio Do the Right Thing or Will His Interim Chancellor Choice Show Him to Be the Manchurian Candidate?

The buzz on the Internet(s) is that New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will choose an interim chancellor. (Gotham Schools reports that, outrageously, we may add, de Blasio is holding out until actual week of transition from old to new regimes for making his chancellor appointment announcement. And de Blasio himself is terming the appointment an interim one.) Will this be a mere short-term pick or will it be a hold-ever from the Bloomberg reign of error? Gotham Schools claimed Friday that current chancellor Dennis Walcott's top deputy Shael Polakow-Suransky will hang on past December 31 as the interim chancellor.

If the appointee will be Suransky it will surely disappoint. For Suransky has signed off on the succession of noxious policies of the last two plus years under Dennis Walcott. Those respecting libraries and equity in education should shudder at the continuation of the stain of Suransky upon the city Department of Education.

For this was the man that derided school libraries and dismissed school librarians as mere curators of media. (Listen to his chilling words in his joint appearance with Walcott on Brian Lehrer's show on WNYC this August 26.)

As I wrote on August 26:
City Department of Education's chief academic officer Polakow-Suransky is quoted [in Lisa Fleisher's "City Schools are Quietly using Fewer Librarians" in the Wall Street Journal] as justifying closing libraries. Here and in his 8/26 interview at WNYC he tried to justify closing the libraries by saying that newer technologies make them less essential.
The article cites the state requirements that Bloomberg seeks permission to violate. A middle school or a high school with between 100 and 300 students must have a certified librarian present, performing librarian duties at least two days a week. Schools with over 700 students must have a full-time librarian.

In the WSJ article Polakow-Suransky implicitly sets up the blame for teachers by saying that new teaching practices along with new technology make librarians less necessary. Johnny doesn't know the myriad of researching techniques or a range of literature or the fast way to find certain books? Don't blame the lack of a professional librarian or a school library, just say that the classroom teacher is not up to "best practices." Wrong idea. Be sure not to vote for Christine Quinn for mayor, as she supported the mayor all through his terms and is recognized by the Times as likely to continue "his successes."
Fleisher reported this summer that the Bloomberg administration sought an unprecedented waiver of the requirement for librarians in the schools. There are only 333 librarians among the city's 1,700 schools.

The official American Academy of School Librarians blog published this statement in August: "But does nobody in the DOE realize that this will only increase the achievement gap? We school librarians are already familiar with the research that points to the fact that having an endorsed librarian in schools increases student reading scores."

New Yorkers spent great energy, blogging, hitting the pavement or enlightening friends or colleagues of the fundamental imperative of not electing Quinn, as she would represent a fourth term of Bloomberg.

As in China's Qin Dynasty, with its episodes of burning books and burying scholars, Bloomberg's legacy has been similarly contemptuous of history, scholarship and academic professionalism. Record numbers of libraries closed under his leadership, countless schools lost art and music programs. Bloomberg, as the Qin leaders, and as the Cultural Revolution Red Guards, destroyed essential institutions and links to past culture.
Walcott and his deputy, Polakow-Suransky aided and abetted in that destruction.

Mr. de Blasio, do not disappoint us by appointing Polakow-Suransky.
Do not reward Suransky for his crimes against education. Appoint a professional education leader that truly respects the essential components of a quality, equitable education policy experience.

Mr. de Blasio, we are less than dazzled by some of your other choices. As Perdido Street School blog wrote earlier this evening Alicia Glen's Goldman Sachs record strikes us as less civic progressive-minded and more beneficiary of public-private partnerships as venture capital instruments. Fiorello LaGuadia is spinning in his grave.