2010-11-19 / Letters

Hard To Understand

The following letter was sent to New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner

Dear Commissioner Steiner:

I was a teacher, dean, guidance counselor, acting Assistant Principal and curriculum writer in the NYC school system for some 33 years until retirement in 1991. I then taught in a local Yeshiva and tutored in the sciences for some ten years after. When Joel Klein was appointed to head the NYC Department of Education I found it hard to understand how someone with no education experience (other than a brief stint at teaching in the 60s) can oversee the education of children in a large city or any city. The controversies involving his (and the Mayor’s) control of the school system are well known.

Now upon Mr. Klein’s leaving the system our Mayor (also without experience in education) has appointed another non-qualified person to run the system. This appointee, Cathie Black, attended religious school, sent her children to lush private schools, was in the business of magazine publishing and lacks any degree, license or experience in education.

Of course being fully aware of Mrs. Black’s background and lack of educational experience you will still consider giving her a waiver in place of a Superintendent’s License – a precedent set in Mr. Klein’s unfortunate appointment. I cannot think of any other professional organization or system that would be, or is at present administered by, anyone other than a person experienced in that profession. In this case it is another slap in the face of all true educators; teachers and administrators who give their all to teach our children will once again be insulted.

On a local radio show the Mayor said that Mrs. Black “has all the experience necessary” and education is “not what this job is all about.” It’s about running a business. He says that his business appointee would get help from the DOE staff regarding the education process. Of course that works both ways: appoint an experienced educator who will be advised on the business end of the school system.

I respectfully ask that you do not consider anyone other than an educator to administer the NY City school system.

STEPHEN S. YAEGER

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