But several years back, when superintendents actively supervised, Kathleen M. Cashin
led principals in some of the city's worst neighborhoods, with notable success.
Born in Brooklyn, Dr. Cashin spent six years as a teacher, 16 years as a principal, and a dozen years as a superintendent, mostly in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville section of Brooklyn.
When mayoral control started in 2003, the super-size region she
led, which included some of the poorest neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, promoted writing, science and nonfiction reading, showing the city's strongest gains on annual reading and math tests.
"We had extensive student writing everywhere," she
recalled on Monday.
"We had children reading books over and above what was required."
Now Dr. Cashin has a new platform: Last week, she became one of three new members of the State Board of Regents, which oversees state education policy.
hand when the regent who represented Brooklyn stepped down, and she
was approved by the State Legislature.
The position is unpaid.
job will be to weigh in on educational policy, even as the state as a whole moves more toward New York City's education reforms, data-driven accountability high among them.
It is an intriguing appointment for someone who represents an old-school philosophy of teacher and school supervision: Dr. Cashin
role as a supervisor, saying principals benefited from the oversight, and had questioned city's decision to eliminate the day-to-day supervision of principals under the banner of "principal empowerment."
In 2007, when regional superintendents were eliminated, Dr. Cashin took on a new business-inflected title - she became the chief executive officer of the Knowledge Network, one of several "learning support organizations.
As a regent, Dr. Cashin
will weigh in on issues like the ongoing political battle over last-in-first-out teacher layoffs, which she
says has shifted the focus from what's really important - training good teachers to become great.
"I think we need to provide enormous support before we pull the plug on someone," she
"My preference would be support, support, support.
I'm not worried about how to get rid of someone - I was always able to do that, tenured or not," she
"My concern was how do you bring your teachers up to a new level."
suggested that "principal empowerment" can sometimes pit principals against their teachers, instead of promoting collaboration.
"You become empowered when you have teachers and principals working together," she
"Not by your title."
On the question of curriculum, she
said the new core standards, which are being adopted by states nationally and run dozens of pages in length are helpful, but there are too many of them, and they need to be simplified.
Kathleen M. Cashin
, a veteran of public school administration, will now be able to weigh in on state education policies.