The Future of New York City Schools is in Good Hands
New York City’s new schools chancellor, Cathie Black, is taking over a school system that has undergone dramatic improvement. Thanks to the tremendous work of our talented teachers and principals, the involvement of parents, grandparents, and guardians, and the bold leadership of the outgoing schools chancellor, Joel Klein, we’ve transformed New York City’s public school system from a dysfunctional failure to one that the Obama administration has called a model for the nation.
By any measure, graduation rates and achievement levels — after decades of being flat — are up substantially. Violence in the schools is down dramatically. And New York City students are outpacing students in the rest of the state and the country. But we know we still have so much more to do to ensure that every student learns the skills they need to pursue their dreams — and I have great confidence that Cathie Black can help lead our schools to the next level.
Cathie Black has spent her career in the private sector helping companies improve their performance. But she is much more than a highly skilled manager. She understands people. She understands the skills young people need to succeed. And she understands how to help drive and inspire them to excel. She also understands what it’s like to have obstacles to success. As a woman who began her career at a time when many women were not given senior level positions, Cathie has always been a trailblazer, determined to succeed. And I have no doubt she will keep New York City at the forefront of public education.
Already, Chancellor Black and her colleagues at the Department of Education are working on the next generation of school reforms. For example, in order to fully prepare our students for college and careers in the 21st century, we need to make sure the curriculum they are learning teaches all the crucial skill sets. That’s why we’re adopting new Common Core standards, a rigorous set of national standards for math and literacy. Our team at the Department of Education is already working on strategies to implement the Common Core standards in our schools as quickly as possible.
As we seek to improve what our students are being taught, so too will Chancellor Black do more to help support and develop our teachers. This means emphasizing fair evaluations for teachers, which will help schools build a culture where teachers receive regular feedback and support for their professional growth. We ought to be able to reward highly effective teachers, and also identify those who are struggling. Building better teacher evaluations is a mission everyone — students, parents, and teachers themselves — will benefit from.
Unfortunately, due to the national recession, we also have some very tough budget decisions ahead of us. The charge I’ve given to Chancellor Black is to do everything possible to keep as many dollars where they belong: in the classroom, supporting effective teaching and learning. As someone who has spent a career managing large budgets and stretching every dollar, I know she is more than up to the job.
Chancellor Black has been visiting schools across the city, talking with parents, teachers, principals, and students, and listening to their concerns, ideas, and suggestions. With all of us working together, I know that we can continue raising the bar and helping more and more of our children succeed - not just in public schools, but in college and careers. #