[ProgressiveEd] FW: [TechForum] interesting article on the team making the changes

Saly Camilla [email protected]
Sun, 23 Feb 2003 14:59:33 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From:	Ben Sherman
Sent:	Mon 2/17/2003 1:19 PM
To:	[email protected]
Subject:	[TechForum] interesting article on the team making the changes
Secret team mulls schools 
Corp. panel targets system
A team of corporate consultants and policy wonks is secretly overhauling the public school system � and getting ready to spring it on out-of-the-loop educrats.
Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have the final word on how a massive reform plan called Children First will change the lives of 1.1 million school kids.
But it's a group of about a dozen consultants, many without any education experience, who are coming up with the options and imposing a topdown revolution on the famously calcified bureaucracy.
"To be very candid, there's nobody here who has done a major sort of corporate reorganization," Klein told the Daily News. "So we brought in certain expertise."
The city Education Department already has adopted the distinctive lingo and values of the mayor's media empire: bullpens, team leaders, secrecy, loyalty. 
But the consultants � pulled from corporate America and education think tanks and paid for with part of $4 million in private grants � are even more closed-door. 
As if they worked for Bloomberg LP, their titles, job descriptions and salaries are top secret � and sources said they've signed confidentiality agreements promising to keep mum about the reforms.
Watching the timetable
In December, Klein brought aboard Ron Beller, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker, to help radically restructure the system's 40 change-resistant districts.
"This is a very hard-driving guy. We urge him and he urges everyone around him to focus on the timetable," Tony Shorris, deputy chancellor for operations, said. "We have five months, give or take, to get this done."
Beller's deputy for day-to-day issues is Maureen Hayes, a hard-charger from mergers and acquisitions power firm Wolfensohn & Co.
His food and transportation lieutenant is Internet entrepreneur Stephanie Sarka.
Consultants also are arriving from Clark & Weinstock, a New York-Washington management firm. 
Among the Clark & Weinstock consultants are Ellen Moskowitz, a corporate lawyer who also served as a spokeswoman for former Texas Democratic Sen. Lloyd Bentsen in the 1988 presidential campaign, and Daniel Cruise, a former White House spokesman for foreign affairs and the National Security Council in the Clinton administration.
The chancellor refused to disclose Beller's or any other consultant's salary, title or qualifications � other than to say he heard of Beller through a former colleague at the publishing giant Bertelsmann. 
The approach has rattled educrats at what was once known as "the Tower of Babble," where gossip was hard currency and staffers would leak insider information from meetings while they were still sitting in them. 
"People don't necessarily understand what the implications of these changes will be for them, and then here comes this new guy who doesn't have a title, who is very aggressive about carrying out the orders of the chancellor and his deputies. It's understandable if some feathers are ruffled," said former team leader Jim Shelton, a partner with the nonprofit New Schools Venture Fund in San Francisco.
New bureaucracy feared
But even some of Klein's supporters worry the consultants are locking out people with valuable experience.
"There are times when you need someone from the outside. But the fear is these new people won't change the system, they'll just form a new layer on top of the old one," said teachers union President Randi Weingarten.
Some of the old guard fear consultants also are functioning as a hit squad � deciding who stays and who goes in a cold-blooded reorganization. They are charged with coming up with options to consolidate dozens of offices.
Sources have said the mayor and chancellor intend to eliminate some 2,000 jobs by closing some local school district offices, and combining back office jobs such as purchasing, payroll and administration. 
But Klein insisted that only he and his staff will decide who gets to keep a job �� not consultants who are here for six months.
"Any notions of a shadow government, that these people are somehow making policy decisions, are simply wrong," Klein said.
So, what's next? Are they going to slash the shapes of the military and the government? 
(Why do we need the Army, the Navy, the Airforce, and the Marines? And can't we use the Navy to guard American's waters and eliminate the Coast Guard? 
Why does every state have 2 Senators when one would save money and be more efficient?) 
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