City Council member Charles Barron spoke out against the selection of Cathie Black as the city’s new public schools chancellor at a City Hall press conference this morning, saying that the lack of an open selection process failed the city’s schools and children.
“Mayor Bloomberg, they say insanity is when you do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. We’ve been this way before. Joel Klein was unqualified,” Barron said.
Barron was joined by his wife, Assemblywoman Inez Barron, and a few dozen other supporters of Barron’s Freedom Party, the third party that he founded this year to involve more blacks and Latinos in the democratic process.
Barron said the business-minded move was typical of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“The problem with Bloomberg: he’s a businessman,” Barron said. “He sees education as a product and he sees it as a business and our parents are his customers. So he has this business mentality, so he went and got a business woman to partner with him.”
Both Barrons said that one of the primary problems with the selection of Black is that she lacks experience as either a teacher or an administrator.
“We can no longer have a person who does not have a clue about what they would they see should they walk into a class room to be able to evaluate the classroom, the children’s functioning, and the teacher,” Inez Barron said. “We are no longer going to allow that type of person to head the system that effects our children.”
Tuesday’s announcement that Klein will be stepping down and replaced by Black has been met with skepticism and surprise by a number of elected officials. The mayor’s office has refused to comment on who was a member of Bloomberg’s search committee, and Klein was reportedly only told of the mayor’s selection shortly before the announcement was made.
Councilmember Barron said that the decision can be reversed and hopes that the search expands to include more qualified candidates.
“He should rescind his decision and immediately open up a national search to find a qualified person, and to touch base, connect with, involve some of the educators in the African American and Latino community… who know how to educate our children, have a proven track record of it. Open up our search and do it right, Mayor, do it right. That’s all were asking for is a just process.”