Are We Handing Education Over to Corporate America?

With Mayor Michael Bloomberg tapping magazine executive Cathie Black to run New York City's schools, is business encroaching too far into education?

The shocking resignation of New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and the subsequent announcement that Mayor Michael Bloomberg was bringing on former Hearst Magazine President Cathie Black as the new chancellor has put new focus on the relationship between business and education.

At the moment, it appears that the corporate world is fully encroaching on education: Klein was a publishing executive and Justice Department official with no public education experience—aside from being a product of Brooklyn public schools. Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates is pouring money into education reform through he and his wife's foundation. Accountability is being demanded at all levels, especially of teachers, with economic-type models (like value-added data) being used to assess their performance. Cities are introducing performance pay systems. And hedge fund executives have taken a shining to charter schools as benefactors of their extreme wealth.

Into this brave new educational world enters Black who has spent the majority of her career in media and publishing. Like Klein, she has no experience in education; unlike Klein, she's never worked in the public sector. She attended parochial schools all her life, and her boys attend a private boarding school in Connecticut. (She has, however, sat on the board of the Harlem Village Academies charter schools—perhaps proving her corporate bona fides.)

All of these factors add up to an understandable amount of outrage.

Alex Pareene at Salon's War Room blog was among the most outspoken in his befuddlement. Of Bloomberg's steadfast belief in a good businessperson being able to fix previously intractable problems:

The fantasy of the superstar CEO who can parachute into any company—in any industry—and right the ship through time-tested management techniques is common in corporate circles, but so are books of New Yorker cartoons about golf. Only the sort of lucky billionaire convinced of the moral superiority of the financially successful would assume that a random executive with no education experience could manage the New York city public schools better than someone who... you know, has experience managing public schools.


Dan Collins, New York editor-at-large at The Huffington Post, asks what Bloomberg was thinking with the Black hire:

The state legislature gave Bloomberg control over the city schools reluctantly, and under the assumption that he wouldn't run them like a high-handed dictator, a la Rudy Giuliani. This is a big decision that looks pretty arbitrary. While God knows the state legislature couldn't be expected to do it better, Bloomberg owes it to the city to answer a lot of questions about why he picked Black.


Guest-blogging on Ezra Klein's blog, education reporter Dana Goldstein names some education up-and-comers who might have made more sense:

What’s more, with a new generation of aggressive education reformers reaching maturity—folks like Teach for America founder and chief executive Wendy Kopp and New Leaders for New Schools co-founder and chief executive John Schnur —one wonders why it would be necessary for someone with Bloomberg’s policy priorities to turn to the corporate world to fill an education executive position.


But, Bloomberg insists Black is the best manager he knows and rumor is she's more diplomatic than Klein and has a track record of dealing successfully with people known for their egos. Still, is this the right move for New York City schools?

Photo via Flickr user nycmayorsoffice.

via Alan Levine / Flickr

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they've worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.

Keep Reading Show less

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, whale populations have been steadily recovering. However, whales in the wild still face other dangers. In the summer of 2018, four Russian companies that supply aquariums with marine animals captured almost 100 beluga whales and killer whales (aka orcas). After a public outcry, those whales are swimming free as the last of the captive whales have been released, the first time this many captured whales have been released back into the wild.

In late 2018 and early 2019, a drone captured footage of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales crammed into holding pens in the Srednyaya Bay. The so-called "whale jail" made headlines, and authorities began to investigate their potentially illegal capture.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The 2020 election is a year away, but Donald Trump has some serious ground to cover if he doesn't want it to be a historical blowout.

A Washington Post- ABC News poll released Tuesday shows that Trump loses by double digits to the top Democratic contenders.

Vice President Joe Biden (56%-39%); Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (54%-39%); Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (56%-39%); South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (52%-41%); and Sen. Kamala Harris of California (52%-41%) all have big leads over the president.

Keep Reading Show less