NYC schools chancellor quits in a blow to mayor’s vision

Former publishing executive Cathie Black's lack of education experience made her a lightning rod for critics.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said former publishing executive Cathie Black was the perfect choice to head the city’s 1.1 million-student school system, because she was “a superstar manager.”

But her resignation April 7 after three contentious months on the job was the latest in a series of third-term setbacks for Bloomberg—and a defeat of his high-profile school reform bid to hire a business-minded outsider like himself to run the city’s schools.

“I will take full responsibility for the fact that this has not worked out as either of us had hoped or expected,” Bloomberg said at a hastily called City Hall news conference to announce Black’s resignation. She did not attend.…Read More

NYC schools chief weathers rough first 6 weeks

In her first six weeks as head of New York City schools, Cathie Black has been heckled by parent activists–and heckled them back. She joked that birth control was the solution to crowded schools, the Associated Press reports. The former media executive mockingly teased a throng of angry parents who were shouting at her. A recent poll pegged her approval rating at 21 percent. And opponents are keeping a legal fight alive to block her appointment as schools chancellor because she has no experience as an educator.

“This has not been a good opening round for her,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

But a string of public appearances at dozens of public schools in which Black was smiling and engaging has supporters saying she will prove she has what it takes to oversee the nation’s largest school system and its 1 million students……Read More

Solution to crowded schools? How about birth control?

The solution to school overcrowding? According to New York City Schools Chancellor Cathleen P. Black, it might just be birth control, reports the New York Times. During a meeting Thursday evening with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his school overcrowding task force, Ms. Black–Aquinas Dominican High School in Chicago, Class of ’62–suggested just that to the parents, community leaders and school principals who had gathered to share their concerns about the lack of school seats in Lower Manhattan. The comment came after Eric Greenleaf, who has a child at P.S. 234 on Greenwich Street in TriBeCa, cited demographic projections that predicted a shortage of 1,000 school seats by 2015 in the area, which has seen a baby boom of sorts since the city doled out incentives for people who moved Downtown after the Sept. 11 attacks…

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Touring schools that work, chancellor says new approach is needed at those that don’t

In the first school Cathleen P. Black visited, students in a fifth-grade classroom had one laptop apiece, from which they received individualized lessons. In the second school, for teenagers who had been on the verge of dropping out, counselors routinely show up at the homes of students if they are absent three days in a row. The third was one of four schools in a building that once housed one; students had violin and dance classes, aside from traditional subjects like history, English and math. Ms. Black, who officially began her job as New York City schools chancellor on Monday, has been visiting schools for weeks, reports the New York Times. But the tour on Monday, more than an introduction to the system, was a tightly choreographed showcasing of the Department of Education’s biggest successes and newest programs, like using technology to help teachers in the classroom and breaking up big schools into small ones…

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US education chief meets NYC’s future chancellor

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday that incoming New York City schools Chancellor Cathie Black “has the potential to be a fantastic leader” and he will do everything he can to support her, the Associated Press reports. Duncan met later with Black, a publishing executive who has been a controversial choice to lead the nation’s largest school system because she has no background as an educator. City Department of Education spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz said the two discussed a number of education issues, including the city’s plans to implement the state’s winning Race to the Top federal education reform grant proposal.

“I think she’s going to do a great job, and I’m going to do whatever I can to be a good partner and to help her be successful,” Duncan said before the meeting. Duncan, who led Chicago’s public school system before President Barack Obama tapped him for a Cabinet post, was in New York for an announcement about an initiative to improve GED programs. Asked whether Black would be handicapped by her lack of conventional education credentials, Duncan said, “There are challenges whether you’re conventional or unconventional. Anyone coming to this job has a huge learning curve.”

He added, “In Chicago I worked for the previous superintendent before I got the job. … I sort of thought I knew it, and when I got there I had no idea how big my learning curve was.”…Read More

Can a publisher run schools? The experts debate

Michael R. Bloomberg, in his successful bid to become mayor, sold himself as an expert manager, a businessman who had made a fortune in private industry. He has now named Cathleen P. Black, a magazine executive, to be the next chancellor of New York City’s public schools. Why?

 “Cathie Black is a superstar manager who has succeeded spectacularly in the private sector,” Mayor Bloomberg said this month. “She is brilliant, she is innovative, she is driven–and there is virtually nobody who knows more about the needs of the 21st-century work force for which we need to prepare our kids.”

Ms. Black also has virtually no professional experience in education–not at the head of a classroom, not in charge of a school district, certainly not responsible for 1.1 million children. Is it, then, a sure thing that an expert manager in one field can succeed in another? The New York Times asked four prominent experts in business management what they made of the mayor’s choice, and his confidence in her transferable skills. As a group, they were not put off by the idea. They held up several examples of corporate chieftains who hopscotched successfully from industry to industry, people like Louis V. Gerstner Jr., who went from RJR Nabisco, a maker of food and cigarettes, to I.B.M, a maker of computer equipment……Read More

Editorial: Why Cathie Black?

Joel Klein, New York City’s schools chancellor, is quitting to go to work for Rupert Murdoch – to help him put the News Corp. empire “in the education marketplace.”And to replace him, Mayor Bloomberg has tapped Cathie Black, who is best known as the former publisher of USA Today, says Dan Collins, New York editor-at large for the Huffington Post. She currently runs Hearst Magazines, which publishes periodicals like Cosmopolitan, Seventeen and Good Housekeeping.


Let’s take this piece by piece.…Read More