Meet the Department of Education's new chief lobbyist, Micah Lasher. At the Post's Daily Politics blog, Liz Benjamin reports that Lasher, a 27-year-old political whiz kid fresh off a stint in Rep. Jerry Nadler's office, is now the DOE's executive director of public affairs. That's the position held by Terence Tolbert until his sudden death at the beginning of November while he was on leave working for the Obama campaign in Nevada. Lasher has already updated his Facebook profile (above) to reflect his new job. As the DOE's top lobbyist, Lasher is now responsible for pushing the DOE's agenda in Albany. At the top of that agenda, of course, is convincing lawmakers to preserve mayoral control before the 2002 law giving control of the city schools to the mayor expires at the end of June. Lasher will also have to work some magic if the city's schools are to escape relatively unscathed in this year's budget fight. (Fortunately, he has experience working magic; he published a book on the subject when he was just 14.)
Here's another set of folks not being swept along by the rising tide of transparency: Schools that want to admit children according to their own preferences, not the Department of Education's rules. DOE policy prohibits elementary schools from giving preference in kindergarten admissions to children attending the schools' own pre-K programs. But some schools are hoping to escape having to follow the rules simply by not being forthcoming about how they admit their students, according to a report posted today on the Times' City Room blog. Elissa Gootman writes: But one official at a popular elementary school that picks students by lottery said the school intended to give priority to this year’s prekindergartners anyway, insisting that the school not be named so it might “fly under the radar” and avoid City Hall’s attention. I'm also hearing that some non-lottery schools are considering quietly exploiting a loophole in new DOE rules about kindergarten admissions as they register next fall's kindergarten classes.
The charter school teacher who goes by Mildly Melancholy first got our attention here when she was unceremoniously fired, in the middle of the school year, after struggling for months with what sounds like precious little support from administrators and fellow staff. Since then, she's inspired a great debate in the comments section here about what it means to be a teacher, how to measure teacher quality, and whether urban teachers are asked to do too much. And now, she's emerged from a period of quiet on the subject of herself to respond to this raging debate. The long response she's posted is worth a read, especially her disclosure that she's the third teacher in the grade she taught to be dismissed from this particular school. (Maybe she's not the one to blame here.) Here are some other highlights from the robust conversation Mildly Melancholy started.