Choice for New York City schools chancellor tries to win over skeptics

Nov. 18, 2010
Cathleen Black's efforts to reach out reveal little about her educational philosophy

From The New York Times: Over the last few days, Cathleen Black, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s choice for schools chancellor, has been reaching out to members of the city’s political class to introduce herself and beat back mounting skepticism of her qualifications. Those on the receiving end of the calls have variously described the conversations as charmingly informal and maddeningly vague. Almost all of them said it was impossible, even after speaking with Black, to glean her educational philosophy or determine exactly how she intended to run the school system.

EARLIER...From The New York Times: One week after announcing his choice of Cathleen P. Black, a publishing executive, to succeed Joel I. Klein as chancellor of the country’s largest school system, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his aides are trying to fend off mounting skepticism about her selection.

From The New York Times: There will be no cushy learning period for Cathie Black when she assumes her new job as New York City schools chancellor. She will be entering a treacherous political and educational landscape, far darker than it was just one year ago, when elementary and middle school test scores told a story of continual growth and achievements. Now, more than 100,000 additional students who failed toughened state tests this year need tutoring and help. Up to 47 schools face closing. The teachers’ union, which has been without a contract for more than a year, has been more adversarial toward the city than supportive.

ALSO: The man who will decide whether Cathie Black, a publisher with no educational leadership experience, is qualified to lead the nation’s largest school system is himself a career educator known for his efforts to better prepare teachers for the classroom. But David Steiner, the New York State education commissioner, is also a well-regarded figure among the school reform movement, whose guiding principle is that American students are best served by a results-driven, businesslike approach to education management. In the debate over Ms. Black’s qualifications — or lack of them — Steiner has emerged as a focal point in what is widely expected to be a contentious process. State law requires all school chiefs to hold a professional certificate in educational leadership and to have at least three years’ experience in schools, two qualifications she lacks. The law allows for the education commissioner to grant a waiver to “exceptionally qualified persons.” (The New York Times)

EARLIER...from The New York Post: New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has announced that he is resigning after eight years. He is being replaced by Cathie Black, who is chairman of Hearst Corporation. Klein will be joining News Corp. as an executive vice-president.


From The New York Times: Klein's tenure as chancellor benefited from two historic conditions. He was the first chancellor appointed by the mayor and, as such, was answerable only to him, which gave him power and security. And he was part of — and widely considered a leader in — a national effort for greater accountability in public education shared across partisan lines.

Also from The New York Times: Cathie Black makes no pretense of having any experience in education. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's explanation for picking her sounded a lot like his original pitch for himself: “Cathie is a world-class manager.”

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