The panel advising state education commissioner David Steiner on the appointment of Cathie Black as school chancellor has declined to recommend that she be given a waiver.
The panel’s recommendation is non-binding, but many people thought that at least the panel was a sure thing for Black, since it included many Bloomberg allies. Three of the panelists have worked for the mayor at the Department of Education.
A spokesman for the Bloomberg administration declined to comment.
Black, a magazine publishing executive, needed a waiver since under state law she lacks the minimal requirements to head the city’s schools, including graduate coursework or teaching experience.
Several papers are reporting about conversations with a source close to Steiner saying that the commissioner himself intends to deny the waiver unless Mayor Bloomberg promotes an experienced educator to oversee teaching and curriculum.
At a news conference earlier today, the mayor said that Black’s experience in business was a plus in light of the city’s enormous education budget and the coming fiscal difficulties.
You want somebody that really has experience in dealing with budgets, business experience, and financial experience. Harder to find, but a lot of people out of habit just don’t want to come in to public service. I’m thrilled we’ve somebody who is willing to do that. We are going to have some very tough budget times ahead…we have to make sure that we can deal with less monies in our school system, making sure that the monies get used as efficiently as we possibly can because we can’t walk away from our kids. At the same time the challenges of attracting great people and keeping them to work in our city and our school system is a daunting challenge and that’s one thing that Cathie Black has a lot of experience doing. She is a cheerleader. She is somebody that can excite people and bring them together and give them confidence. She has shown that repeatedly.
The office of Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who was one of the leaders of the anti-Black crusade, emails over the following statement:
The decision to reject the waiver application submitted by Mayor Bloomberg is a tremendous victory for the more than one million children in the New York City public school system. While some progress has been made, the public schools remain broken and someone who lacks educational experience is not the relief pitcher our school children need at this time.”
The “relief pitcher” line is a dig at the mayor, who said earlier today when talking about Black and current schools chief Joel Klein:
“I think you’ll find, three years from now, they’ll look and say this was the woman that, you know, we had a great pitcher for the first seven innings. We’re bringing in the closer for the last couple of innings and it was the right closer to bring in.”
Will update with more information as it comes in.