THE New York City Board of Education has dumped Rudy Crew as the high-profile chancellor of America's largest school system, citing continuing problems with student performance.
Dr Crew was New York's 12th schools chancellor in 20 years, overseeing a system with 1.1 million students and 75,000 teachers in 1,100 schools, and an $11 billion annual budget. His reforms include curbing corruption, ending automatic student promotion and requiring under-performers to attend summer school.
"I dare say it's going to be a long day in a very cold hell until we find someone as good as Dr Crew," said Irving Hamer, one of the members of the school board who supported him.
The former chancellor's departure raises the question: why would anyone want the thankless job of heading a big-city American school system?Prospective candidates Beverly Hall, the Atlanta superintendent, and Paul Vallas, Chicago schools chief, said they would not even consider it.
It's a quandary facing not only New York but also Los Angeles, San Francisco and Detroit, all of which are now looking for new school leaders. Such cities as San Diego, Seattle and Washington have already hired non-educators with military or legal backgrounds to run their schools.
Dr Crew had feuded with New York's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, particularly over the latter's call for vouchers to allow parents to send children to private schools. And with his supporters on the board outnumbered by the mayor's allies, he was essentially sacked by four votes to three. Mr Giuliani said the system needs "a person who can run a very complex business or multinational corporation".