Announced nine months ago by Mayor Adrian Fenty to a mixed chorus of applause and boos, Michelle’s appointment is part of two trends. The first is mayoral control of schools; the second is appointing “uncredentialed” or “unlicensed” leaders to fill the post of superintendent (or in the case of DC and NYC, chancellor).
The nightmare of credentialing is ordinary thought of in terms of teachers, a challenge that reformers like Michelle and Wendy Kopp have taken on in their respective spheres; credentials in their earliest incarnation were meant to be a floor beneath which teachers would not fall. In their modern incarnation they have become a ceiling through which they may not pass. For example, the head of the Washington DC based Sidwell Friends math program, a trained mathematician with 30 years experience of superlative high school teaching couldn’t get a job in a public school. Nor could Einstein.