?David Steiner got none of the negative press that Cathleen Black received when he was appointed Commissioner of New York State's Education Department in October of 2009. ?But it seems that the boot that Black got this morning may also have hit Steiner, whose resignation (now set for the end of the year) was announced?this afternoon. ?
In fact, the two education leaders couldn't have been more different. Black was a non-educator; Steiner was the real deal and his appointment?was hailed by educators as a major step forward for New York.? In a few short months, he turned New York State from an also-ran?in the Race to the Top competition to a winner.? As I write in a forthcoming story for Education Next about Steiner, ?Perhaps not since William T. Harris, the 19th century's last U.S. commissioner of education and founder of the first philosophical periodical in America, have we had such a deep and agile mind in such a key position of public school responsibility.? ?
What happened???While the Black exit was predictable ? and predicted, by Mike Petrilli ? Steiner's departure came as a shock to many when New York State Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch announced it today.? The press release reads:
We recruited David because he is one of America's leading education reform visionaries, and as Commissioner he has delivered - leading New York's successful Race to the Top application and guiding this department through an amazing array of reforms.? As he approaches the end of his second legislative session and second school year as Commissioner, he has informed me of his desire to return to a role outside of state government where he can continue to champion reform.? I know he is weighing a number of exciting options.? In the weeks to come the Board will begin an orderly transition and continue to move forward with our reform agenda.
This does sound like a very different kind of leave-taking than the one Cathleen Black got, but the question may be whether he sealed his fate when he granted Black her waiver?earlier this year.?
--Peter Meyer, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow