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December 5, 2021 am31 2:04 am

New York City does not allow grades of “Incomplete.” But what other grade would we give our departing schools Chancellor? Should we make an exception?

An Incomplete might be appropriate if there were just not enough time. But the issue behind Meisha Ross Porter’s scanty record is not lack of time. Nope, no incomplete.

When Richard Carranza left last winter, de Blasio was appointing a 10 month chancellor. Ten months was all Porter ever had. And de Blasio made clear (in part through his behavior with Carranza), that he, not the Chancellor, would be calling the shots. Porter, when she took this job, was agreeing to a short tenure, with her name in lights, but little real control.

Her expectation was to get little done, and she succeeded.

de Blasio had a priority, reopening schools in September. That’s his record, although she allowed her name to go on it. No remote option? Part of de Blasio’s plan. Too little testing? That’s how de Blasio was keeping schools from going into partial closures. de Blasio. Testing the wrong kids? Same thing. Mandates for adults to get vaccinated? That’s de Blasio, too

So the biggest stuff Meisha Ross Porter did – open schools in September and find ways to keep them open and full and staffed, that was really just following orders – or de Blasio directly

One big question I have, since we were going back to school in September 2021, no matter what, is how would the school system help kids who had a rough 2020-2021. I heard that there would be a “screener” – that we would be identifying kids who needed help and support. Good idea. But the system chosen, DESSA, is horrible. Rumor has it that the decision to use DESSA was not Porter’s, that it came from City Hall. Nonetheless, here’s somewhere she could have made a difference, somewhere she probably knew she could make a difference, but she stuck with the idea that she does not call the shot except as de Blasio asks for them.

Porter came in to a short-term job, knowing full well that most big decisions were going to have her name on them, but be made by the Mayor. And even where she might have made a difference, there is no evidence that she tried. Her effort may have been incomplete, but there’s more than enough to grade. It’s not the circumstances, it’s her choices that we should be thinking about.

Operation of the New York City school system through the pandemic has ranged from a D to a C. I’m putting Porter’s grade right there, halfway in between, C- / D+.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Samuel Noel permalink
    December 5, 2021 am31 6:00 am 6:00 am

    At the very least, mayoral control should end and an independent Board of Education should be restored. This revolving door of chancellors is dizzying.

  2. Sean I Ahern permalink
    December 5, 2021 am31 7:19 am 7:19 am

    Maybe it is time to end Mayoral control and replace it with elected school boards that appoint a chancellor who will be accountable to the school communities and not the politician.

    • December 5, 2021 am31 11:32 am 11:32 am

      I am not sure that that is the perfect model…. but I far prefer it over Mayoral Control.

      The current governance system has been a disaster for schools, students, communities, teachers.

  3. David Vota permalink
    December 5, 2021 am31 7:33 am 7:33 am

    If you had a mayor that knew something about schools or teaching for that matter, control would not have to end. But, I go back a few mayors, more than most, and in continuing in true fashion, D.B, doesn’t have a clue “Everything is back to normal” or so he says. Is it? Meisha was a lame duck chancellor from Day One. It is a shame what is going on in schools. He should get his head out of the clouds, stop worrying about New Years Eve in Times Square and get to work. Oh wait. That’s right. He has 26 days left. What does he care anymore? He doesn’t.

    • December 5, 2021 am31 11:33 am 11:33 am

      de Blasio makes an easy punching bag. We all use him. But the problem is not just de Blasio.

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