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New York's 'reform' mayor creates a short list of the most reactionary corporate reformers out there... Byrd Bennett looking for a new job in New York City as New York schools chancellor?

When the rumor first reached Substance that Chicago Public Schools "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett was consulting with people in New York City about returning to New York for the job as schools chancellor there, under the newly elected Mayor Bill DiBlasio. One recent news report in New York City, said: "The newest contenders to emerge [for school chancellor] are Kaya Henderson, District of Columbias schools chancellor, and Chicago schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was in New York City recently, fueling rumors of her candidacy, sources said."

Kaya Henderson was Michelle Rhee's deputy and protege until Rhee's abrupt departure from the Washington, D.C. public schools. Henderson took over and continued Rhee's attack on public education and the unions.If reports from New York City are true, then the "reform" mayor of that nation's largest city is following the lead of the anti-reform mayor of the nation's third largest city. Rahm Emanuel of Chicago has been selecting his schools leadership with the help of the Broad Foundation and other purveyors of privatization.

Is DiBlasio doing the same? If the rumors are true and two major candidates are Barbara Byrd Bennett (Chicago), Kaya Henderson (Washington, D.C.), then the reform of New York's schools has been a brief flirtation with the same kind of hope that swept the nation in 2008.

Byrd Bennett's record in Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago is clear: privatization, attacking the real public schools, charter school proliferation, massive corruption. Since she was named CEO of CPS following the dumping of Rahm Emanuel's first CEO (Jean Claude Brizsrd), Byrd Bennett's signal achievement has been the slavish adherence to the script dictated by Rahm Emanuel -- the closing of 50 public schools by the Board of Education, on Byrd Bennett's recommendation, on May 22, 2013. It was the largest closing of real public schools in the nation's history.

Kaya Henderson of washington, D.C. was the protege of Michelle Rhee. Henderson has overseen the D.C. system to the point where the majority of so-called "public schools" are now charter schools.

One of the more droll moments in the coverage so far is the continued refusal of CPS to discuss Byrd Bennett's "travel schedule." As regular readers know, Byrd Bennett's routine returns to her Ohio home have been widely discussed, but CPS claims that her "personal" travels are nobody's business.

Is the latest (fifth in six years) "Chief Executive Officer" of the nation's third largest school system, Barbara Byrd Bennett, preparing to move on to New York City? Rumors began in December 2013 that Byrd Bennett was talking with New York City officials about decamping from Chicago less than two years after her arrival here following her work helping to destroy the public schools of Detroit. Above, Byrd Bennett (right) and the most recent appointee to the Chicago Board of Education, Deborah Quazzo, a multi-millionaire financier. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The questions were asked, but not in Chicago. One report from New York:

December 6, 2013. Focus turns to school leader search in de Blasio transition. by Geoff Decker, at 5:06 pm

As the dust settles from Mayor-elect Bill de Blasios two-day spree of administrative appointments, all eyes have now turned to his next big decision: who hell pick for New York City schools chancellor.

Speculation around a handful of candidates has been around for months, but this week the rumored list was shuffled and whittled down. Some names have vanished while others surfaced at the top of the rumor mill, a rearrangement that reflects concerns that de Blasios top administrative picks so far arent diverse, observers say.

The newest contenders to emerge are Kaya Henderson, District of Columbias schools chancellor, and Chicago schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was in New York City recently, fueling rumors of her candidacy, sources said. Montgomery County Superintendent Josh Starr also remained in the mix, as did New York-based Carmen Farina, the citys former city chief academic officer and Regent Kathy Cashin.

COMPLETE REPORT FROM GOTHAM SCHOOLS...

Focus turns to school leader search in de Blasio transition

by Geoff Decker, at 5:06 pm

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio aside his pick for first deputy mayor, Anthony Shorris. Next to Shorris are Dominic Williams, who will be the first deputy mayors chief of staff, and Emma Wolfe, de Blasios director of intergovernmental affairs.

As the dust settles from Mayor-elect Bill de Blasios two-day spree of administrative appointments, all eyes have now turned to his next big decision: who hell pick for New York City schools chancellor.

Speculation around a handful of candidates has been around for months, but this week the rumored list was shuffled and whittled down. Some names have vanished while others surfaced at the top of the rumor mill, a rearrangement that reflects concerns that de Blasios top administrative picks so far arent diverse, observers say.

The newest contenders to emerge are Kaya Henderson, District of Columbias schools chancellor, and Chicago schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was in New York City recently, fueling rumors of her candidacy, sources said. Montgomery County Superintendent Josh Starr also remained in the mix, as did New York-based Carmen Farina, the citys former city chief academic officer and Regent Kathy Cashin.

Andres Alonso, the former chief executive officer the Baltimore schools once considered a frontrunner for the job, has not been mentioned as prominently.

The short list of education leaders outside New York City reflects a wide swath of backgrounds and ideas about education policy, some of which seem to align closely with de Blasios views, and some of which dont. For de Blasio and his advisors, their choice will be a signal of how faithful he plans to stick to some of the campaign pledges that helped distinguish him from more centrist Democratic candidates during the primary.

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De Blasio himself has said nothing publicly about who hes considering for the job, other than acknowledging this week that hes begun talking to candidates. A de Blasio spokeswoman also declined to comment or confirm details about the selection process, which is taking place mainly behind closed doors.

Starr, Henderson and Byrd-Bennett share at least one thing in common on education. All were teachers in the New York City school system before moving up their career ladder. They also all run relatively large school districts, though they range in size (Chicago has 400,000 students compared to Montgomerys 150,000 and D.C.s 45,000) and demographics (Montgomery County, which runs up to the edge of D.C. boundaries, is largely suburban).

Their differences in other areas are stark, which could factor into de Blasios decision. Of the three, Starr, 44, appears to have the most in common ideologically with the mayor-elect. Both de Blasio and Starr are opposed to using tests scores as an accountability tool to measure the performance of teachers and schools, and both have railed against the use of school grading systems like the one New York City currently has.

Both are also against using test scores as a sole determinant in student admissions policies, a position that moved Starr to try to desegregate middle school classrooms during a six-year superintendency in Stamford, Conn.

Starr was in Brooklyn last week and it is reported that de Blasios team has reached out to him. A spokesman for Starr did not comment on the reports, saying only that he is aware that his name has been mentioned for the position.

But observers say chances may have faded a bit for Starr, who is white, after seeing who de Blasio picked this week for first deputy mayor, Anthony Shorris and police commissioner, Bill Bratton.

Given his commitment to wanting a diverse government, his selection of two white males for the two key appointments hes made, I would think, raised the probability that the appointment of the schools chancellor would will not be a white male, said Joe Viteritti, a professor of public policy at Hunter College who has advised school leaders in New York City, San Francisco and Boston.

Henderson and Byrd-Bennett, both African American women, are seen as being on the other side of the education reform spectrum. As leaders of urban school districts that have pushed aggressive policies around teacher evaluations, charter schools and intervention for struggling schools, they are closely associated to Bloombergs brand of reform, which de Blasio ran against in the election.

For Byrd-Bennett, its not the first time her name has been floated for chancellor this year or even this decade. She was reportedly then-Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcotts top choice for the job when Mike Bloomberg took over City Hall in 2002.

Byrd-Bennett ran the Chancellors District under Chancellor Rudy Crew in the 1990s, a group of low-performing schools that received extra resources to improve. The model has been cited by Michael Mulgrew and Randi Weingarten as a preferred intervention than Bloombergs school closure strategy.

But that was a long time ago. Most recently, Byrd-Bennett has enraged the union in Chicago as Mayor Rahm Emanuels schools chief. Last year, Byrd-Bennett was the face of the administrations cost-saving plan to shutter 49 school buildings, a story that gained national headlines.

Byrd-Bennett still has close ties to New York City, however, and some see her work in Chicago more as an extension of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel than a reflection of her actual positions.

She was in New York City prior to Thanksgiving, a source said, fueling speculation that she is being taken seriously by de Blasio. The source did not know specifics of the trip.

A Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman, said she cant confirm her travel schedule when asked of Byrd-Bennetts visit.

Henderson, under then-Chancellor Michelle Rhee, helped negotiate a 2010 teachers contract that included merit pay for high-performing teachers and helped implement the districts new teacher evaluation system. In 2011, she took over for Rhee, who resigned when the mayor who appointed her lost a re-election.

Henderson has continued most of the districts reforms, but without the brash managerial style that made Rhee a divisive presence both in D.C. and nationally. This year, D.C. saw big student gains on national tests, though it still ranked low in overall achievement.

A spokeswoman for Henderson confirmed she had spoken to de Blasio, but did not say what they talked about.



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