Mayor Bloomberg and the rest of New York state have reached a compromise about what to do with Cathie Black, and it looks like they got their advice from The Office. Like Jim Halpert and Michael Scott before them, Black will serve as Chancellor with city DOE worker Shael Polakow-Suransky serving as somewhat of a co-manager. This leaves Black to take care of all that "bigger picture" stuff while Polakow-Suransky, who is currently the DOE's Deputy Chancellor for Performance and Accountability, will probably take care of everything actually having to do with the schools.
State education Commissioner David Steiner initially denied a waiver that would have let Black serve alone, but officials came to an agreement last night that Black could serve with a chief academic officer. One official said, "This is the product of an extensive dialogue between the state and the city about the concerns raised by the commissioner. The feeling is that it substantially addresses those concerns." However, Steiner still has to sign off on Black's appointment.
Mayor Bloomberg reportedly submitted a new, 10-page waiver request highlighting Black's intention to appoint Polakow-Suransky as chief academic officer. He wrote that Suransky would be directly supervised by Black, but with "the broadest scope for the exercise of independent initiative and judgment....Mr. Polakow-Suransky's work has been essential...to the success we have had in improving the city's schools and outcomes for the city's children."
Polakow-Suransky, 38, began his work as an educator as a middle-school teacher in Manhattan, and soon after became the founding principal of Bronx International High School in 2001. UFT president Michael Mulgrew even gave Polakow-Suransky his support, saying, "We've worked well with Mr. Polakow-Suransky in the past, and we look forward to working with him and Ms. Black in the future on the critical issues the school system faces." And federal secretary of education Arne Duncan said having two at the helm was probably a better idea no matter who was appointed Chancellor. He told the Times, “Can anyone do this alone? Of course not. This is a monumentally tough, complex organization.”