I was not part of the picture in summer of 2010, when Mr. Zuckerberg and now Sen. Booker and the governor were discussing the possibility of a $100M gift. I was otherwise engaged.
On his discussions with AFT President Randi Weingarten on an innovative teacher compensation schedule based partially on classroom effectiveness:
[W]hen I became commissioner shortly after that, one of the first things I did was to fly down to Washington D.C. and meet in the private office of (American Federation of Teachers President ) Randi Weingarten. And I said to her “Randi it appears that we have a very substantial opportunity here. There’s a large amount of philanthropic funds, they’re very energized by charter schools. I want to make sure that most of that money goes into improving the traditional public school system, so here’s what I think we ought to do together. Let us agree on a (collective bargaining agreement) that is the first of its kind in the nation. Let’s pay our teachers more, let’s pay them according to the degree to which they are effective educators, let’s stop having steps and bumps based on whatever degree you got and based instead on the quality of the educational preparation you have. Let’s agree in advance to expand learning time in the schools and on the terms of compensation that would be associated with that. If we do that, right, if you’ll agree to that, then I will agree that this is not going to be New Orleans.”
On his commitment to traditional district schools:
We are going to have a modest expansion of alternative choices, to include charters, to include some new traditional public schools. But we’re not going to quote ‘charterize’ the district.” And that is exactly what happened. If you look at the numbers and you go from that day forward we did get that collective bargaining agreement, and we have expanded the number of charters to then about 12.5 percent to about 28 percent. We also brought in a number of non-charter traditional public schools, Bard Early College being an example. Eagle Academy, Young Girls Academy and many more. So we’ve expanded the choices available to parents to include charters, but we have not quote ‘charterized’ the district, in fact that was never our intent.
On the need to “continue to focus on the educational outcomes” and parent choice:
I think that a big part of that is that we act the way our parents act, which is to say we want quality public schools and how a school came into being, whether as a magnet school, or a traditional school or a charter public school or a county (vocational education) school is of secondary significance compared to the opportunity that all children have to choose a quality school.