January 8, 2009
A top schools official who spearheaded the Bloomberg administration’s efforts to allow private control of some public schools is leaving the Department of Education, in a reorganization that could save the department a significant amount of money — and might or might not signal a new direction for the school system. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced the change to school leaders in a conference call this morning.
The official, JoEllen Lynch, oversaw the department’s transition to allowing schools to affiliate with private management groups like New Visions for Public Schools and CEI-PEA, in lieu of the traditional bureaucracy. The groups, known as PSO’s, were the closest that the Bloomberg administration came to emulating other urban school systems’ privatization efforts, like one in Philadelphia where for-profit management groups competed for control of public schools. Lynch’s office will be headed by another top schools official, Eric Nadelstern, who will maintain his current portfolio of schools affiliated with the Empowerment network.
The reshuffling elevates Nadelstern’s position in the department, a promotion that could elevate his gadfly ideas, too. Officials are selling the change as a way to cut costs amid ballooning concerns about the city’s fiscal prognosis. But some people who work at PSO’s are worrying the change could also be a signal that PSO’s days are numbered, and that the Empowerment network Nadelstern champions as a very lean way to run public schools will overtake them.
In the conference call this morning, Klein told school leaders that he will explain the details of the reorganization at a meeting next Monday. Sources familiar with the call said the reorganization could also involve new positions for other DOE administrators, including Marcia Lyles, the only school official whose focus is on curriculum and instruction.
A spokesman for Klein, David Cantor, said that Lynch is moving to an educational consulting job in February.