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The Bloomberg administration has never seemed that concerned about winning popularity contests when it comes to school reforms. Michael Bloomberg expected New Yorkers to care more about outcomes—as measured by rising standardized test scores and graduation rates—than about his methods for achieving them.
The fact that he so unceremoniously rid his administration of Cathie Black after just three months suggests a recognition that perhaps the means actually matter as much as the end.
It wasn’t just the fact that Black was a magnet for public opprobrium. Joel Klein, the previous schools chancellor, never polled very well, and many of the reforms he enacted were highly unpopular—closing schools, reorganizing the community school districts into regions, overhauling the gifted and talented testing system.
But in the mayor’s mind, Klein was a clear success. His job was to overhaul a school system that the administration thought was badly broken.
Black’s job, by contrast, was more to safeguard these reforms, not necessarily introduce a bunch of new ones, and to sell them to the public so they’d outlive the Bloomberg administration. Obviously that wasn’t working out.