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Let Nadelstern Write

May 14, 2006 am31 4:59 am

As a Chapter Leader in a NYC school, I attend monthly UFT delegate assemblies (DA). In today’s mail I found the agenda for Wednesday’s DA. Item #3 caught my attention: Eric Nadelstern – Empowerment Zone.

I object.

Eric Nadelstern is the Chief Executive Officer of the ‘Empowerment Zone.’ The pseudo-private sector title already rubs me the wrong way. He’s done other jobs for the DoE. In a piece that was so fawning as to be offensive, an Edwize contributor mentions Nadelstern’s tenure as a small school principal in Queens. More recently, he was a leading force in breaking up large Bronx high schools, a program that continues to cause dislocation among our teachers and students, and that has failed to deliver on its promises, while destroying decades of history and tradition. Later, Nadelstern’s name showed up prominently in the Mr. Diana Lam imbroglio and disgrace.

So what is the Empowerment Zone? The DoE does not offer much in the way of details in this press release or this glossy brochure. Is it a secret? Probably not. The DoE provides links on this page, including “Please click here for Chief Executive of Empowerment Schools Eric Nadelstern’s presentation on the Empowerment Schools.” but that document is not available unless you are on the DoE LAN. (go to the page and try clicking it)

There’s been some discussion of the Empowerment Zone that’s worth reading. You might look at the observations, questions and comments at se hace camino al andar. But any discussion is limited by lack of detailed information.

Which brings us back to Nadelstern. Why does he want to come to the Delegate Assembly? Is he coming on his own, to shore up his fiefdom? Or is he coming on behalf of Bloomberg’s Chancellor, going over principal’s heads to convince to teachers to push for joining the Autonomy Zone? (if that’s the case, it would be pretty sleazy).

But he doesn’t have to take up an agenda point at the Delegate Assembly with a slick presentation. We can learn all about his autonomy zone, if we had the details. Why are they not on the public part of the DoE’s website?

I have an idea. Let them release whatever documents exist. Let them write up clear, detailed descriptions of how this will work. And then, if we have questions, we can ask.

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