NYC Schools Chancellor Cathie Black Is Out

| April 7, 2011

When I first heard that Mayor Michael Bloomberg had appointed a friend and  publishing magnate to run New York City’s school system I felt personally insulted. Why? Because, I feel that the job of Schools Chancellor should go to an educator. Call me crazy!  Instead of finding a principal or a local superintendent who has a really good sense of the New York City school system, Mr. Bloomberg just picked up his Rolodex and selected someone who was enthusiastic about the task.

Now that Ms. Black has resigned I feel that my first reaction was a bit extreme. No matter how successful she may have been at Hearst, a public failing like this, which is definitely being applauded by some – including me before I remembered that I have a conscience – must be painful. Nevertheless, I’m sure future successes will not elude her for long.

A new Chancellor has been appointed in her place:  Dennis Walcott. Mr. Walcott has (according to The New York Times) been a faithful aid to Bloomberg since his first term (the Mayor is now in his third term, in case you forgot) and has some experience in the school system. For instance, he attended public school – in New York City, no less – and even taught kindergarten for two years at some point in his past. I suppose this appointment is better than nothing, but I still would prefer someone who is fresh off the proverbial boat of New York City’s roiling school system.

One other positive fact about Walcott is that he was head of the Urban League for 12 years. According to the Mayor, while in his post at the Urban League, Walcott helped to develop programs aimed at discouraging drop-outs.  I am wide-eyed and interested to see where this new Chancellor will take things. Hopefully he will not focus only on numbers and metrics, but also on students, families and teachers.