Our Fans at Tweed
July 10th, 2008

I was a bit surprised late last month when one of our postings, Dog Bites Man at Tweed, provoked a comment from Department of Education spokesperson David Cantor. Admittedly the comment was critical, but, hey, it’s always good to be read by the people you cover.

Now, though, we have learned the sad truth: People at Tweed don’t read The Wonkster because they want to but because they have to. According to today’s Sun: “Employees at the city Department of Education’s press office have a new assignment: They are to scour a group of 24 education Web logs, e-mail Listservs and Web sites in a hunt for factual errors and misinformation. Department officials are calling the unit the Truth Squad.”

This is part of the department’s press operation, which the Sun reports, “has 14 employees, including five deputy press secretaries, and a $1.3 million budget.” And one of those employees, Marjorie Feinberg, has to read Gotham Gazette and, along with it, we assume, The Wonkster.

In our case, here’s what your tax dollars bought.

In a post about the city awarding a contract to train principals to The Leadership Academy, a project organized by and praised by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, I wrote in snarky blog style, “The academy will get about $10 million of public money a year to inculcate prospective principals with the ideas of former GE chief executive Jack Welsh.”

Cantor answered, “If you really believe that what the LA does can be summed up as ‘inculcating … the ideas of … Jack Welch,’ you haven’t met Sandra Stein,” its chief executive officer. He told me I should (which I remain more than happy to do).

The academy’s own Web site says it is “modeled after successful private sector initiatives such as General Electrics John F. Welch Leadership Center,” and he had chaired its advisory board.
More significantly, though, Cantor did not address what I — and others — saw as the key issue here: whether the contract really was competitively bid and the effectiveness of the academy.

But, now, David, here’s another chance: Today NYC Public School Parents, which your office also reads according to the Sun, takes up the Leadership Academy issue again. Leonie Haimson writes, “The Leadership Academy created by Joel Klein, with Joel Klein chair of the board, Joel Klein who had selected the other board members, Joel Klein who had appointed the director, Joel Klein who had raised $75 million in private money to start it through the Fund for Public Schools, an organization which is also chaired by Joel Klein [has] now been awarded a $50 million contract by Joel Klein.

Any comment?

By on July 10, 2008, 12:08 pm
In category: Education | 3 Comments »

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3 Responses to “Our Fans at Tweed”

  1. Luis O. Reyes Says:
    July 10th, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    The emphasis at DOE’s press office is clearly on Squad not Truth. If they were seekers of Truth rather than purveyors of DOE spin on debatable public education issues, then, they would be scouring all public and private sources of knowledge, not just 24 weblogs, etc., to learn from the educational research field as well as from practitioners beyond New York.

    Sounds more like DOE media cops, as in enforcers of the DOE line of the day, than Socratic servants of the public good.

    Do they really think we are all such fools? This is “transparent government” in Newspeakland…as in it’s clear what they are up to..managing the news.

  2. Daniel Millstone Says:
    July 11th, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Much though I admire Leonie Haimson’s work on education issues (and your reporting on those issues), I worry that we’re falling for the old trick of the Wizard of Oz: Don’t look behind the curtain.

    Mr. Klein’s mismanagement of our public schools is done only in obedience to the wishes of his employer. Mr. Klein is the front man, but the puppeteer behind the curtain is Mr. Bloomberg. If you think Mr. Klein’s antics are his own invention and not those of the Mayor, I have a bridge to Brooklyn you could buy.

  3. gail Says:
    July 11th, 2008 at 11:27 am

    I agree that the mayor is ultimately responsible and controls Klein. Klein himself makes little secret of that. In this case, though, and I imagine this was what Leonie was saying, it’s Klein’s name — not that of hs benefactor — and that on the Leadership Academy.

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