Wednesday, December 1, 2010




Recorded on Sunday November 28, 2010 "Rather than representing the people they serve, Commissioner Steiner and Mayor Bloomberg have dismissed democracy and highlighted the worst aspects of Mayoral control of schools through secretive back-room negotiations and an unacceptable outcome," stated Chris Owens, a parent and former Community School Board President in Brooklyn.


Parents, Community Leaders Urge State To "Deny The Waiver"

By: NY1 News

Critics of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision and pending deal to appoint magazine editor Cathie Black as Schools Chancellor held a rally Sunday where they called for more transparency in the process.The group of parents and community leaders gathered outside the Education Department's headquarters at the Tweed Courthouse in Lower Manhattan where they chanted the phrase "deny the waiver."

"Last week, Commissioner Steiner and the panel, unequivocally said that Cathie Black does not have the qualifications to be chancellor. This circumvention of the law is completely unacceptable," said city parent Mona Davis.

"We must educate our children, to be educated properly and they must be entitled to the free and appropriate education that's guaranteed to them by law," said city teacher Carmen Applewhite.

Black needs a waiver to become chancellor because she has no educational experience.

Under a compromise reached Friday by city and state officials, State Education Commissioner David Steiner has agreed to grant the waiver because Black will appoint a deputy with an academic background to serve under her.

The mayor's office says that deputy will be Shael Polakow-Suransky, 38.

He currently serves as the city's Deputy Chancellor for Accountability and Performance.

Meantime, City Councilman Charles Barron says he will try to get a temporary restraining order to keep Black from getting the waiver.

He's also urging parents to keep their children out of school until, in his words, a qualified chancellor is selected.

An official familiar with the matter tells NY1 Commissioner Steiner is expected to accept the waiver request Monday.


Critics Blast Compromise Over City Schools Chancellor Pick

By: NY1 News

Critics of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's choice for the next schools chancellor say they will file for a temporary restraining order on Monday to try to prevent publishing executive Cathie Black from getting a waiver to fill the position.At a protest in Brownsville, Brooklyn on Saturday, Councilman Charles Barron said for the second day in a row that he will continue protests against Black and resort to civil disobedience if necessary.

Barron urged parents to keep their children out of city public schools until a "qualified chancellor" is selected. He also said the state should repeal mayoral control of city schools.

"Mayoral control is out of control. The mayor is disrespectful, the mayor is abusive of the power the system gave him," said Barron. "And Cathie Black is unqualified to teach in a classroom, nevertheless [will] run the largest education system in the country."

Black needs a waiver to become schools chancellor because she has no educational experience.
An official told NY1 on Friday that after some earlier reservations, State Education Commissioner David Steiner has agreed to a compromise in which a deputy with an academic background will be appointed to serve under Black.

The mayor's office says that deputy will be Shael Polakow-Suransky, 38, who is currently the city's Deputy Chancellor for Accountability and Performance.

Critics Blast Compromise Over City Schools Chancellor Pick
Polakow-Suransky, a longtime educator in the city schools system who has worked as a teacher and principal, is a Brown University graduate who holds a master's degree from the Bank Street College of Education and a supervisor's degree.In 2001, he opened the Bronx International High School, which focused on the specific needs of recent immigrants who were just learning English, and in 2004, he became vice president for Academic Affairs in the Department of Education's Office of New Schools.

Last year, Polakow-Suransky became the deputy chief schools officer for the Division of School Support, before being appointed to his current post in Accountability and Performance.

Under Black, the mayor's office says Polakow-Suransky will oversee instructional programs and the implementation of major educational policies. He will also advise Black on policy issues relating to curriculum, testing and evaluation.

Dear Friends.

I am so upset in reading Saturday November 26th NY Times to learn that the Mayor's team has selected/accepted a white man, Polakow-Suransky for the position of Academic Deputy to be "second in command" to a white woman to head the NYC Public Education system- predominantly children of color. It is hard to believe that after all the discussion this past summer about his hiring practices at the top....they could not find ONE person of color to fill this post who had expertise in education.

His position that educators have not done a great job thereby justifying the selection of a woman who does not have educational experience would be like hiring someone with NO financial experience to head the financial sector since they have done a terrible job. It's outrageous.

It makes me regret that we chose not to use the Mayor's vow to hire with diversity an example in our article on using a racial equity impact process in decision making. This mayor is totally unaccountable to anyone. He offers an example of the most dangerous decision making possible. BEHIND CLOSED DOORS AND OUTCOMES AS USUAL.

Writing articles on Using a Racial Equity Impact Statement in Policymaking is so important. I look forward to bringing this lens forward into our work and into our institutional practices.

Liberation Psychotherapist

Education Activists,

It's not a surprise to those of us who have been battling Billionaire Dictator Bloomberg over these years of his mayorship that he has forced his State Ed lap dog to give up a waiver for another rich white noneducator. The deal for the liberal public consumption and his conservative critics is to appoint a former liberal white South African-born/Midwest raised educator -Shael Polakow-Suransky- to be Ms Black's public education Voice.
To me, this is a very deep insult added to our children's education genocidal experiences. Bloomberg could not trust the coterie of colored lackeys sprinkled within the middle echelon of his Dept of MisEducation to be the public voice of his corporatization efforts.
But, sadly, many of our elected officials, community leaders, ministers and education leaders will go along with tis insult... seeking handouts, compromises and political pats on their heads from Billionaire Bloomburg. They are hooked on either being in proximity with big wealth and/or have agreed with his privatization policies.
Bloomberg's corporate media friends will drag them out to spin this corporate bumrush as the best thing for our children since... since... oh, I don't know... since Carter G Woodson!
Our fight is still the same intense and relentless one: to build awareness and organization among the hundreds of thousands of Black, Latino, Asian parents, students and educators for the purpose of seizing POWER over the NYC public education system. We know our fight to be on many many levels... one of them being to get the State Assembly and State Senate to immediately rescind Mayoral Control and replace it with OUR policy of Neighborhood School Control grounded in the concept of anti-racist education and that education is a Human Right that demands direct parent-student-educator decision making powers.
You cannot compromise with Education Genocide. You can only DESTROY it.
In Struggle,
Sam Anderson 

June 28, 2010-

Mayor Falls Far Short of a Vow on Diversity

Since winning a third term in November, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has announced a parade of major appointments: bringing aboard three new deputy mayors and six commissioners and trumpeting most of those arrivals in the Blue Room at City Hall.
All nine are white. All but one is a man.

Those selections are hardly anomalous. Despite a pledge he made when he took office to make diversity a hallmark of his administration, Mr. Bloomberg has consistently surrounded himself with a predominantly white and male coterie of key policy makers, according to an analysis of personnel data by The New York Times.

The city’s non-Hispanic white population is now 35 percent, because of an influx of nonwhite immigrants and other demographic changes in the past two decades.

But Mr. Bloomberg presides over an administration in which more than 70 percent of the senior jobs are held by whites, and he has failed to improve on the oft-criticized diversity record of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

“Obviously, it demonstrates no greater commitment under Bloomberg than there was under Giuliani in appointing minorities to high-level positions in government,” said Abraham May Jr., executive director of the city’s Equal Employment Practices Commission, an independent agency that monitors diversity and discrimination in city government.

Moreover, New York lags behind the three cities closest to its population in diversifying its senior ranks.

In Los Angeles, 52 percent of the top advisers to Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa are white; in Chicago, that figure is 61 percent for Mayor Richard M. Daley; and in Houston, it is 55 percent for Mayor Annise D. Parker. [NOTE: Like New York City, these cities are majority Black & Latino]

“The numbers — they’re sad,” said Kevin P. Johnson, a former assistant commissioner of the Department of Correction, who was responsible for equal-employment policies, but quit in December because he was frustrated by the administration’s efforts. “It’s terrible in a city with such a large minority population.”

The Times examined diversity in several top management tiers of the Bloomberg administration. Each tier showed a nearly identical pattern:

¶Of the 80 current city officials identified by the Bloomberg administration as “key members” on its Web site, 79 percent are white, and 64 percent are men.

¶Of 321 people who advise the mayor or hold one of three top titles at agencies that report directly to him — commissioners, deputy commissioners and general counsels, and their equivalents — 78 percent are white, and 60 percent male, according to a database created by The Times, based on public records and dozens of interviews with current and former officials.

¶And of the 1,114 employees who must live in the city, under an executive order, because they wield the most influence over policies and day-to-day operations, 74 percent are white, and 58 percent are men, according to the mayor’s office.

In addition to their demographic similarity, many of the recent appointees fall into two broad categories: former Wall Street executives and loyalists from City Hall or the mayor’s re-election campaign.

“Given Bloomberg’s background, we shouldn’t really be surprised,” said Bruce F. Berg, a political scientist at Fordham University who has studied racial diversity in New York City government. “He’s picking from the business world, his key advisers are from the business world, and this is still very much a white male bastion.”

Mr. Bloomberg declined requests for an interview to discuss the findings.

But his press secretary, Stu Loeser, acknowledged in a statement that “there is always more we can do.” Mr. Loeser said, however, that “we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last eight years” in diversifying the city’s management ranks, noting that almost half of the people in citywide programs intended to identify and develop future top managers are people of color.

In addition, he said, managers — the nearly 6,000 employees who rank just below the top level administrators — have become more diverse in recent years under Mr. Bloomberg.

“These talented up-and-coming managers are positioned to be the next generation of assistant and deputy commissioners, then agency heads, of city agencies,” Mr. Loeser said of those in the training programs.

Still, Mr. Bloomberg has conceded that he has fallen short, acknowledging at a news conference last year that “the diversity of our administration has not been as diverse as the city itself.”
The homogenous composition of the administration is especially striking in crucial areas where city personnel deal with issues predominantly affecting minority residents, like education, homelessness and child welfare.

At the Department of Homeless Services, the Department of Education and the Administration for Children’s Services, 80 percent of the top officials are white, according to the Times’s research — including the newly installed commissioner of homeless services, Seth Diamond. And while the Bloomberg administration, early on, featured minority commissioners at the Department of Finance, the Human Resources Administration and the Administration for Children’s Services, all those positions are now held by white men.

“I have chaired and been present at one too many meetings where every senior person happened to be Caucasian, representing the administration,” said Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, and a former City Councilman who was the chairman of the General Welfare Committee. “It’s not really an acceptable situation.”

Since the 1990 census, the city’s non-Hispanic white population has dropped to 35 percent, from 43 percent. And that change is reflected in the overall city government work force, which dropped from 46 percent white in 1994 to 38 percent in 2008.

Still, little change has occurred in the most senior ranks.

Diversity, of course, is one of the most delicate issues and hardest goals to achieve in any workplace. Many employers want a workplace, especially in the public sector, that has highly qualified managers who reflect the broader community and can engage in a vigorous exchange of ideas by people of different backgrounds. So failing to name minority employees to high-level positions, time after time, not only can dampen employee morale, but also send a message that an employer is insensitive or indifferent, according to political analysts and human resources professionals.

“This is the most diverse city in the world, and to be respected and seen as the mayoral administration of that city, you want to be pushing hard to build a much more diverse pool of people from which to draw expertise,” said Andrew White, director of the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School. “So if you’re not making that effort, your pool is going to be severely limited, and you’re going to go for the kinds of people that you’ve always worked with.”

Mr. Bloomberg pledged during his first campaign, in 2001, to hire people of different backgrounds. And shortly after taking office, he underscored his commitment to diversity, saying that “if you have that as a goal, and you have a process that gets lots of input from various communities, you will wind up with an administration that is reasonably diverse.”

More than eight years later, many people credit Mr. Bloomberg with achieving real progress on race relations, by discussing racial issues forthrightly, supporting immigration reform and meeting with different groups regularly on issues like public health, economic development and basic quality-of-life services.

“Even though minorities may not be filling out the ranks of his cabinet, in proportion to their ranks in the population at large,” Professor Berg, of Fordham, said, “Bloomberg goes out of his way, on many occasions, to assuage minority leaders, and include them.”

No longer, some say, is race viewed as the lightning rod in the way it was under Mr. Giuliani.
“Together with a City Hall that listens to every community across the five boroughs,” Mr. Loeser said in a statement, “we’ve helped contribute to creating a city where people are almost universally seen as getting along together better than at any time in memory.”

But while his language has been inclusive, that has not translated into concrete changes in the highest ranks at city agencies.

A telling measure involves the commissioners who are frequently the faces and voices of the administration at City Council hearings and town-hall-style forums. And the numbers suggest that Mr. Bloomberg has fewer people of color than some previous administrations.

According to the mayor’s office, 72 percent of his commissioners and agency heads are white. That percentage is higher than the 63 percent figure during Mr. Giuliani’s first year, in 1994, and his 69 percent in 1998. Mr. Giuliani’s predecessor, David N. Dinkins, who is black, meanwhile, had a cabinet that was slightly more than half white, in keeping with his goal of a “gorgeous mosaic” of an administration.

And comparing the “key members” identified by the Bloomberg administration with people in similar posts in the past yields striking results: 79 percent white under Mr. Bloomberg, about 75 percent white under Mr. Giuliani, and 55 percent under Mr. Dinkins, according to a review of earlier city rosters and interviews with former officials.

To be sure, some sectors of the Bloomberg administration are more diverse. The New York City Housing Authority is dominated by minorities at the top tier and led by two black officials whom the mayor tapped last year: John B. Rhea, the chairman, and Michael Kelly, the general manager.
And at the Police Department, where for the first time ever a majority of patrol officers are minority, Raymond W. Kelly, the commissioner, promoted two Hispanics to department chiefs in the last year and Chief Rafael Pineiro as first deputy commissioner — the highest rank achieved by a Hispanic.

Such moves, though, stand out in part because they have been relatively infrequent, current and former city officials said.

Mr. Johnson, formerly with the Department of Correction, recalled that at regular meetings, a top official at the city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services would invariably boast about the administration’s diversity record. Afterwards, a few equal employment officers would huddle, and scratch their heads.

“We would say to each other, ‘What are they talking about? This administration is not diverse,’ ” said Mr. Johnson, who is now an investigator for lawyers.

He said that he still had “a lot of respect for the mayor.” But he feels disillusioned, after Mr. Bloomberg’s initial inclusionary talk in 2002. 

“The message is: Make me a believer again,” he said.

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