Duncan’s interference in NY school choice.


The Washington Post is reporting on Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s attempted interference in New York Mayor Bill  De Blasio’s school chancellor choice.

Duncan reportedly told De Blasio not to choose Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr, according to several people knowledgable about the selection process.

Starr has been a vocal critic of Duncan’s corporate-driven reform efforts.

De Blasio ended up selecting 70 year-old New York school veteran administrator Carmen Farina, pleasing many New York and national schools activists and educators. Farina is considered by many to be a competent administrator, a professional educator who is critical of former Mayor Bloomberg’s bully-boy tactics and failed education policies.

Farina came out of retirement to take the job and few expect her to view it as a long-term commitment.

Starr was offered the No. 2 spot in the department, with the understanding that he would become chancellor within a few years, but he declined it, according to several people familiar with details of the search who spoke anonymously because of its political sensitivity.

Although Duncan’s interference in local schools is unprecedented by a Secretary of Education it is not the first time he has done it.

In January 2011, while D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) deliberated on who would succeed Michelle A. Rhee as D.C. schools chancellor, Duncan said publicly that he hoped  Kaya Henderson, Rhee’s deputy, would get the job. She did.

Starr was one of three current or former schools leaders in the Baltimore-Washington region whose names surfaced in connection with the New York job, considered one of the premier education posts in the nation.

The others were Henderson and Andrés Alonso, former chief executive officer of the Baltimore City public school system, suggesting that the region is a hot spot for education reform and a training ground for education leader.

What isn’t clear is if Duncan also pushed Kaya Henderson for the New York position and De Blasio said no.

9 thoughts on “Duncan’s interference in NY school choice.

  1. Unfortunate that NY’s new mayor complied under pressure. “Hello to the new boss…same as the old boss”. Fooled again.

    1. Huh? There’s no evidence for what you claim, Susan. And your suggestion that De Blasio and Bloomberg are the same is just silly on its face. The point is that Duncan tried to bully De Blasio. The other point is that De Blasio ended up selecting someone other than Duncan’s choice, which clearly was Henderson. And he selected an opponent of Bloomberg’s education policies. A good start.

      1. But Susan, it is a major leap to go from saying De Blasio and Bloomberg are the same and that NY voters “were fooled again,” to saying Farina wasn’t De Blasio’s first choice. In fact, if Farina wasn’t De Blasio’s first choice it kind of proves he didn’t comply with Duncan. By all accounts, Duncan’s bully-boy tactics failed. Duncan is the bad one in this story. Not De Blasio.

    2. Also, if you have been following this story, you would understand that Farina was likely the first choice. De Blasio wasn’t sure he would be able to convince her to come out of retirement, so had to line up alternatives. In the end, as Farina said, De Blasio was very persuasive and persistent.

  2. Another example of government’s tentacles reaching into something it has no first hand experience with regarding education “reform”. Unless of course, Arne actually taught for some time in a public, preferably inner city school, rather than running it from his Ivory tower. And mommy’s stint at U of C lab school does not mirror the real world the rest of us have to deal with on a daily basis so any ideas that arise from that situation is “pie in the sky” mentality.

  3. I really dislike Arne Duncan. It would be a fabulous policy reversal for public education if Obama let Arne go back to Chicago, and appointed a real educator as education secretary. I personally am thrilled with Mayor DeBlasio’s pick of Ms. Fariña, a woman who actually spent time in the classroom. Experience matters.

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