Chancellor Walcott: Change That Kids Can Believe In?

Is the new broom actually just, 'another mouthpiece for the mayor'?

Dennis Walcott has taken one clear, admirable position—by contrast with the dancing Governor Andrew Cuomo. He is forthright about the damage to kids in the state’s teacher tenure law that mandates this city—when firing teachers—first lay off those who were first hired. I hope that Mayor Bloomberg’s also admirably intense opposition to LIFO is not the primary cause for the chancellor’s loyal agreement. Let us see if he remains independently insistent against the state and New York City’s teachers' union’s fierce support of tenure protection by seniority.

I voted for Governor Andrew Cuomo with anticipation, but this caving by him to one of the bastions of his voting and campaigning base brings me intimations of regret. Having reported in the Voice on Governor Mario Cuomo for years, I do not believe he would have locked in teacher seniority at the expense of kids finding teachers, whenever hired, who actually learn who each one of them is—and needs.

As a longtime critic of former chancellor Joel Klein, I do, however, salute what he said in this vital regard in the May 2011 issue of the libertarian Reason magazine about his current education gig with Rupert Murdoch: “Using technology, software, distance learning, platforms, individuation, so that we focus on each child, rather than think one teacher can figure out the sweet spot in a class of 26 kids” (emphasis added).

Chancellor Walcott, do you agree with Joel—and if you do, what are you going to do about it, regardless of what the Education Mayor believes? You are now in a historic position to enlarge and deepen the lives of millions of kids—not only in New York—if you stop dancing and energize the city’s teachers to focus on each student rather than lessen their futures on the basis of collective standardized tests.

Think of these children as your children!

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