Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Arne Duncan And The Cathie Black Waiver Deal

What role did Arne Duncan play in getting NYSED commissioner Steiner to grant the waiver to Cathie Black?

The deal reached Friday capped a week of frantic talks between the city and the state. Mr. Bloomberg, who was given control of city schools in 2002, has said that transforming the school system will define his legacy as mayor.

Mr. Bloomberg viewed Dr. Steiner’s challenge as a critical test of his authority over the school system. The mayor told people involved in the negotiations that a rejection of Ms. Black would undermine the model of mayoral control and set a dangerous precedent.

At one point while the negotiations were under way, Mr. Bloomberg said publicly that the law requiring the schools chancellor to hold education credentials was obsolete and should be abolished.

Mr. Bloomberg had initially believed he could build enough public pressure to force Dr. Steiner to approve Ms. Black, according to the person with knowledge of the negotiations. Business executives, former mayors and celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg flooded Dr. Steiner’s offices with messages in support of Ms. Black.

But Dr. Steiner remained skeptical, and he said on Tuesday he would consider her appointment only if Mr. Bloomberg installed an educator at her side.

The talks with the mayor about that possibility grew more serious after an eight-member panel advising Dr. Steiner on Ms. Black’s qualifications on Tuesday mustered only two votes unconditionally in support of her, unexpectedly throwing the selection process into disarray.

Mr. Bloomberg typically loathes intrusions into his management of the city. But throughout the negotiations for the waiver, he showed an unusual willingness to compromise to preserve Ms. Black’s candidacy. To the surprise of his own associates, he held his tongue in public, refusing to challenge Dr. Steiner and the panel that rebuked his choice for chancellor.


Underscoring the high-stakes nature of Ms. Black’s fate, even the federal secretary of education, Arne Duncan, spoke to both Dr. Steiner and Mr. Bloomberg during the negotiations.

On Friday, Mr. Duncan praised the outcome. “Can anyone do this alone? Of course not,” he said. “This is a monumentally tough, complex organization.”

I'm not sure I believe the jive about Steiner holding out because he didn't think Black is qualified.

To be frank, I don't think Steiner cared about any of that.

Rather, I think he wanted political cover to grant the waiver.

He doesn't mind being a corporate Bloomberg LP shill, he just doesn't want to look like a corporate Bloomberg LP shill in public.

Bloomberg, however, didn't want to give him that cover.

Bloomberg likes negotiations to go 100% his way and any "compromise" makes him feel like a loser.

So in comes corporate whore Arne Duncan to convince Bloomberg that giving in to a "Chief Academic Officer" was a slight compromise that wouldn't mean much in reality.

I bet Duncan also reminded him how his mayoral control was under attack from the way he had handled this mess and if he didn't give in just a little, it would make maintaining autocratic mayoral control in the future much harder.

Remember, Arne Duncan is a big fan of mayoral control.

He knows, just as every other ed deform corporate whore knows, that democracy and education deform do not go well together.

This stuff can only be done in the dark of night and in the smoke-filled backrooms.

So Bloomberg compromised ever so slightly.

But not really.

And once again, the educrat put in place by the Change We Can Believe guy has done the business of the corporate interests over the people.

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