NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD? "LEADERSHIP" TRAINING ACADEMY OUTED.

    It was supposed to be the best thing since apple pie. But the New York City Leadership Academy, a training center for New York City principals, has not met the expectations generated by its creators. The Academy was apparently a brainchild of the Partnership for New York City, the unelected "mayor's" office that enjoys an incestuous relationship with the once-august New York Chamber of Commerce.  The Partnership for New York City has been at the forefront of a rather elitist approach to education in the city, first espousing the proliferation of charter schools, and then supporting the dissolution of local school boards and placing the New York City public schools under a single manager who answers only to the mayor.  The Academy, which the city is using as a source of trained principals to replace those in under-performing school districts, is itself underperforming. It turns out that the Academy's trainees have not all made a great hit at the schools they have been assigned to, according to an article in December 20, 2005 editions of The New York Times.
    The Partnership positions itself as wearing the real pants in New York City government, a city which it deems too important to leave to the management of elected officials and to that outmoded form of government called "democracy."  The Academy it helped create, is, of course, a private nonprofit whose work is subsidized by private funds. In other words, New York City is once again accepting the charity of "benefactors" who can run things outside the purview of the electorate. For the same reason, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg runs the metropolis for a salary of $1. Of course, this is billed as a benefit to New Yorkers, who don't seem to be aware of tradeoffs such as the awarding of air rights over railroad tracks to preferred bidders at a discount amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. Bloomberg is a buddy of David Rockefeller, founder of the Partnership, and he received an award from another of David's pet projects, the Museum of Modern Art, just before he was elected to his first term as mayor. The award carries David's name. And the paint-by-numbers art work for which Bloomberg received the award....hmmmm.......wait! Let me do a little fact checking on that!
    Back to the Academy. If you have ever had the opportunity to take a whiff of the Rockefellerite establishment, you will immediately grasp that the Academy is basically a factory that produces clones that tow the line, something like cookie-cutter elitists. No wonder Academy trainees have received a mixed reception among the "real" people who pay bills and scrape to get by. In the first place, principals adjudged "poor performers," most likely people of color, had to be booted so there would be room for the Rockefellerite clones, predictably white-butted lackeys. Then, these principals had to be carefully trained so they would be reliable "in your face" types.  Highlighted in The Times article was a brief history of one of these "principals," Adrienne Lloyd:

    Take the case of Ms. Lloyd, who worked as a teacher and an assistant district attorney before joining the Leadership Academy. Tabio Da Cruz, the  teacher's union chapter leader at J.H.S. (Junior High School) 8, said that at first he had high hopes for Ms. Lloyd, who surprised him by calling him at home to introduce herself before school started.
    They started to spar, he said, after she closed a union-run training center in the building. Tensions rose, he said, after she started calling teachers at home after they called in sick. "If you were calling out sick, she would ask you: 'Are you sick? What's your temperature? Are you sure you can't come in? Can I have someone come pick you up and bring you here?'" he said. "It seemed like she was open to ideas in the beginning, but all of the sudden it was my way for the highway; if you don't like it get out."

    The article states that Ms. Lloyd was transferred to another school, and that she told The Times she was currently on a health-related leave.
    Admittedly, we have not interviewed Ms. Lloyd, but her management attitude reflected in The Times article likely reflects the culture of the Academy.
    Nonprofits like the Academy relieve responsibility from the electorate (the way a thief relieves someone of their wallet) and place it in private hands using public money. Such is the modus operandi of the Partnership, one among a flotilla of nonprofit "thynk tanques" that basically manipulate pubic policy in this country from the sidelines.
    According to The Times article, Kathryn S. Wylde, president of the Partnership, sits on the Academy's board. She is quoted in the article as saying that the Partnership contributed $30 million in funding to the Academy. The article puts funding for the program at $70 million, and indicates that part of that funding, and one would guess perhaps much of the remaining $40 million, is from the city. Thus the Partnership gets to implement its idea of what education should look like by leveraging 40 additional billions from its $30 billion, which is how these private nonprofits like to expand their power. Remember that that $30 million, if it had not been shielded as a contribution to a nonprofit, would have been taxed at a rate as high as 50 percent.  The average taxpayer  makes up for this shielded portion, or $15 million. Thus, taxpayers pony up their millions for an elitist institution that by keeping a low profile, makes itself highly resistant to public input.
    It used to be said that the communists claimed to be selling the West the rope they will use to hang it with. Likewise, it appears that the Partnership is selling New York City the rope with which to hang its educational infrastructure, while siphoning public funds into the pockets of its own constituency, such as the hand-picked candidates for the Academy.
    Hopefully, The Times will do a follow-up article on the nature of the training at the Academy and the racial constitution of its graduates. Otherwise, Elissa Gootman and David M. Herszenhorn have hit a bull's eye with this article.

P.S.
    After writing this column, I briefly browsed the Partnership's web site at www.nycp.org, and upon reading it, became ill. Under "About Us," it states:
    The Partnership for New York City was formed out of the merger of two organizations: the New York Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the New York City Partnership.
    No, far more likely, this was a clandestine and unfriendly takeover of the 200+ year old New York Chamber of Commerce, and not a "merger." I'll leave it to those with stronger stomachs to leaf through the entire site.
    By the way, if you think this local phenomenon has nothing to do with our country's foreign policy woes, think again. Paging through "Our Founder" at the Partnership web site, you will see that it touts David Rockefeller's influential ties to the foreign policy establishment that brought us the Patriot Act and the Iraq War, among other fantastic productions of the current U.S. administration.

Updated 1/7/2006