I am writing regarding the recent selection by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of Cathie Black as Chancellor of the Department of Education to replace outgoing Joel Klein.
New York State law is clear on the qualifications for the position of Schools Chancellor and Ms. Black clearly does not meet those qualifications. I feel this is another example of the mayor bypassing the laws that govern the rest of us. He definitely feels he is above the law- remember term limits?- and that he knows better than all of us.
I suppose that this is the mayor's attempt at diversity by naming a Black to the position.
As reported in the media, there was absolutely no public search for a qualified candidate. Mr. Bloomberg has asserted that no education background is necessary to hold this position which is responsible for the education of 1.1 million students.
He states that her managerial and corporate experience is more important than having a background in education, as the law requires. I would like to remind the mayor that Ms. Black herself has stated that finances and spreadsheets are not her strong points and that they “make her eyes glaze over” but that her main forte is in marketing and sales.
I would counter the mayor's arguments by stating that if he had commenced a nationwide or even a city-wide search that many worthy candidates could have been found that meet both the managerial and education experience necessary for the job.
The NYC school system is not selling widgets or magazines.
I wonder if Ms. Black has ever set foot in a public school, she attended private school herself and sent her two children to boarding school. And, according to her own book, she delegated the responsibility of raising her own children to her mother-in-law.
I ask, would you select a Police Commissioner with no prior experience in law enforcement or a Fire Commissioner who had never seen a fire?
Or for that matter, would you choose a brain surgeon who had read lots of books and been briefed on a procedure but never been in an operating room herself.
The mayor has also said that Ms. Black will have the experience and guidance of Joel Klein's Deputy Chancellors to assist her, but already two out of eight of them have tendered their resignations and who knows how many more will leave before she assumes the position.
As a magazine magnate, it is my belief that Ms. Black knows far more about Features than Teachers. I also wonder if Cosmo, Redbook, Good Housekeeping and USA Today will become required reading in our schools.
I hope our elected officials in Albany and here in the City stand up to Mayor Bloomberg and his billionaire boy's club and speak out against this power play to place an unqualified candidate in this position and make him go back to the drawing board.
It's time for Mayor Bloomberg to play by the same rules as everyone else and end his blatant cronyism and back room deals. I urge New York Education Department Chancellor David Steiner not to grant the necessary waiver to Ms Black.