Today’s news:

Schools Chancellor Klein introduces his new staff

With the beginning of the school year looming, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced his five choices for the new Department of Education’s senior staff last week — a group that includes a true general at the helm.

Klein, a lawyer who was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in late July, has picked retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Marcelite Harris to lead the new staff, which includes educator Diana Lam, former state Deputy Comptroller Kathleen Grimm, nonprofit education advocate Michele Cahill and Board of Education holdover Anthony Shorris.

The changes come as the new city Department of Education begins to take shape under Klein’s direction, about three months after the state Legislature dismantled the city’s decentralized public school system and gave the mayor direct control. The changes allowed Bloomberg to replace the former Board of Education with the advisory Panel for Educational Policy, directly appoint the schools chancellor and if U.S. Justice Department approves, eliminate community school boards.

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it will allow the schools chancellor to select the superintendents who run the school districts throughtout the city.

“Today’s decision brings us another step closer to establishing a system of accountability in New York City’s schools and providing our children with the first-rate education that they deserve and need to fully participate in the American dream,” Bloomberg said.

While many praised Klein’s appointment to the schools chancellor post, the former assistant attorney general who ran the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division in the Clinton administration was criticized by some for a lack of educational experience. The announcement of his senior staff came at an Aug. 28 Manhattan news conference.

Klein’s choices for his senior staff seem to reflect a balance between educators and managers, although only Lam — the former superintendent for the Providence public school system in Rhode Island — appears to have true educational experience.

“Turning around the New York City schools requires the dedicated work of nothing short of an all-star team,” Klein said. “With these five people, I am confident that we have assembled the greatest collection of education and management talent of any school system in America.”

Bloomberg praised Klein’s staff selections as “an extremely qualified and dedicated team ... with broad experience and superb education and management credentials.”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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