A dozen City Council members and a handful of other local elected officials are hosting a press conference tomorrow announcing their plan to introduce a resolution urging state education commissioner David Steiner to deny Cathie Black the waiver required to become New York City schools chancellor.
So far, the people who have emerged as opponents of the Black appointment have been regular critics of the mayor and his education policy, people like Tony Avella, Charles Barron and Norman Siegel. And the press conference will be populated with some of the mayor’s regular, more left-leaning critics, with electeds like Hakeen Jeffries, Margaret Chin and Brad Lander weighing in against the appointment.
But the roster of folks signing onto the resolution shows that some of the more moderate members of the City Council are also against the Black appointment, including Lew Fidler, Mark Weprin and Daniel Halloran, a Republican.
“Who is going to explain to her what goes on in a public school room between 9-3,” asked Fidler. “She didn’t go herself. She didn’t send her kids. Her only experience is with charter schools and that is minimal. The arrogance of the appointment is unbelievable.”
Added Fidler, “I served on the board of a Catholic high school for two years. That doesn’t qualify me to be the Pope.”
Fiddler said that some of the mayor’s aides reached out to him yesterday hoping that he would be on board.
“I like to think they call me because they believe if I think they are right I will say so. I don’t think they are right.”
Weprin said that he sent out an email survey to 3,000 of his district’s residents to get their take on the Black appointment. Several hundred wrote back and over 75 percent of those were opposed.
Weprin, who has two children in public schools, said he does not think it is necessary for the chancellor to come from an education background, but that they should at least be familiar with the governmental landscape of New York City so that they can better battle the press, the unions, and the like.
“She is a very impressive woman. I wish I were as successful as she is. But I can’t see her as being a candidate so worthy that we should grant her a waiver. If we are going to do that why have the waiver requirement at all?”