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NYC Schools Chief Pick Says Offer Came 'Out of Left Field'

By guest blogger Christina A. Samuels:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he conducted a "public search" and talked to "many different people" to guide his search for a new New York schools chancellor during a press conference announcing his surprise pick of publishing mogul Cathie Black. The New York Times responded with a tongue-in-cheek blog entry titled, "If You Were Asked About the Chancellor's Job, Tell Us."

But in the New York Post, Black told gossip columnist Cindy Adams in a brief interview how her selection was a surprise, even to Black, the former head of Hearst Magazines :

"Couple of weeks ago on a Monday the mayor called," she told me. "[We've known] each other a long time. I didn't know what he wanted. He only told me this was a personal call and he wanted to meet. I couldn't exactly say, 'Sorry, Mr. Mayor, but I'm busy,' but the fact is I had back-to-back meetings at Hearst, so I said I couldn't today but could tomorrow.'

"He said, 'How's 7 a.m. tomorrow?' I said, 'Fine.' We met in his foundation offices. The offer came out of left field, and my stomach did a flip-flop. The opportunity made me feel fantastic. It's a great thing when, at a certain stage in life, you can be able to deal up . . . not down.

Black, who attended parochial schools in Chicago and whose children were educated in private schools, added that she's not "nervous at all" about her new role. The state department of education must grant a waiver permitting Black to take the position as chancellor, but the plan is for her to be in place by the beginning of the year.

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