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.