Next for Black
November 24th, 2010

Yesterday’s decision by a state advisory panel against giving Cathleen Black the waiver she needs to become schools chancellor does not doom her appointment — but it does create a huge barrier. The situation for Black — and for Mayor Michael Bloomberg who named her — is made even grimmer by reports that State Education Commissioner David Steiner — the decider in this instance — would be unlikely to approve the waiver unless Bloomberg also appoints an education chief to run the school system with Black.

Bloomberg and his minions have remained mum on their next move — and many believe are unlikely to make any announcement over the weekend. But there’s no shortage of opinion out there on what he, Steiner and Black should do.

The News and the Post, both fervent supporter of mayoral control and Bloomberg’s handling of it, urged Steiner to approve the waiver anyway, the panels and Black’s lack of education experience be damned.

Even though Black never attended or taught in a public school, The Post says the panel’s decision had nothing to do with qualifications. Rather it opined, “It is about the teachers’ union and other special interests attempting to take back from Bloomberg what they see as their school system.”

The News did call for Bloomberg and Black to make some, albeit, small concessions. “The city would be well served by hearing from Black on the question of how she intends to lead the schools and her vision for the top talent she needs at her side. A statement, sincere, graciously offered and undoubtedly true, that she plans – and has always planned – to work with recognized, respected experts in teaching and learning should put Steiner’s mind at ease,” the editorial said.

Many who initially opposed Black’s appointment see used yesterday’s vote to reiterate their opposition. State Assemblymember Marcus Crespo of the Bronx, called on Black to reconsider taking the job and said, “The very suggestion that since Ms. Blacks experience does not qualify her to serve, an alternative waiver could permit her to serve with a qualified co-chair does not seem to be within the scope of the law … I respectfully suggest that the mayor give himself more choice and select someone who qualifies for the position of school chancellor and has the experience to serve as required by law.

Much of the debate centered on the dual leadership idea.
Gov. David Paterson said the concepts had had merits, calling it “very fair.” Speaking on the radio, he said, ” I dont think it will cost Ms. Black anything to comply with their request and we can move on.”

More reaction after the jump.

Others though questioned the advisability — and the legality — of such a move.

“The commissioner does not have the power to grant her a waiver based
on another person having the qualifications. That compromise is not
legal,” said David Bloomfield of the College of Staten Island and chair of the New York County Lawyer’s education committee.

And the Manhattan Institute’s Sol Stern called the concept “very unwieldy.”

As far as City Comptroller John Liu is concerned, having two people run the schools “would dilute the accountability” that many consider the hallmark of mayoral control.

Whatever one thinks should — or should not — happen, Black’s nomination isnt dead yet, Clara Hemphill writes on Inside Schools. Instead, she said, “It appears that the ball is back in City Hall’s court to come up with a persuasive argument that Black will at least have a deputy who knows about schools.”

Gothamist agrees, saying the “not at this time” option, which two members of the panel voted for and which Steiner reportedly supports, opens several options: “The vote could mean that either Bloomberg would have to submit another waiver, better highlighting Black’s education experience and plans for the school system, or he would have to appoint a chief academic officer to serve under her.”

Essentially, the Daily Intel believes, Bloomberg has backed himself into a corner and has no good options. “My wagering,” writes Chris Smith, ” is that Bloomberg, through intermediaries, spends the next several days trying to get Steiner to change his mind or put some time limit on the Black-helper. And if Steiner doesnt budge, Joel Klein may need to ask Rupert Murdoch for an extension on that new job.”

By on November 24, 2010, 2:51 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Education,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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One Response to “Next for Black”

  1. Gerry Segal Says:
    November 24th, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    In Education: Plus a change, plus cest la mme chose

    New York City’s Mayor nominated a Chancellor of Education who never taught a class.

    I taught in the south Bronx 45 years ago. Same problems...different players. Nobody cares about the kids. This song I wrote in 1966 tells the story.

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