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Report: Bloomberg's NYC Schools Chief Pick May Be Denied Waiver

By guest blogger Christina A. Samuels

The New York Times is reporting that an advisory panel to the state education commissioner has recommended that publishing executive Cathleen P. Black not be granted the waiver necessary for her to assume leadership of the 1.1 million-student district.

Ms. Black, the former president of Hearst Magazines and the current chairman of its board, was selected Nov. 9 by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to lead the district after Chancellor Joel I. Klein steps down at the end of this year. However, because Ms. Black has no educational leadership or teaching experience, State Education Commissioner David M. Steiner must grant her a waiver before she could become chancellor. Mr. Klein, a lawyer, received a waiver when he became chancellor in 2002.

The eight-person panel met today and, according to the Times, four voted no outright on Ms. Black's nomination, two voted yes, and two voted 'not at this time.'

"[Mr. Steiner] said he would consider granting Ms. Black, a publishing executive, the waiver she would need to take office if Mr. Bloomberg appointed an educator to help her run the system," the Times wrote.


"But Dr. Steiner did not rule out ruling no entirely, expressing skepticism about Ms. Black's ability to master the intricacies of the nation's largest school system."

Those who oppose Ms. Black becoming chancellor have been submitting petitions to Mr. Steiner, as well as attacking the waiver process, saying that the eight members are too closely allied with the mayor or with the outgoing chancellor. Among the panelists are Michele Cahill, a former adviser to Mr. Klein who is now the vice president for national programs and director of urban education at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Andres Alonso, the chief of the Baltimore school system and also a former deputy chancellor in New York.

New York State Sen. Eric Adams, who represents a district in Brooklyn, and Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo, who represents part of the Bronx, said they plan to introduce legislation that would require the state legislature to approve waivers for district leader candidates who do not have educational leadership or teaching experience.

The United Federation of Teachers, which represents 200,000 school personnel in the city, approved a resolution last week that calls for mandating a nationwide search and a "public process of engagement" for chancellor candidates. The resolution criticized Mayor Bloomberg for creating a controversy by appointing Ms. Black.

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