In an announcement that seemed to shock everyone in New York City, Cathie Black has resigned from her job as schools chancellor after less than 100 days on the job. Her short lived tenure was marked with public outcry and continual problems from the very beginning. Mayor Bloomberg announced that Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott will take her place.
There is speculation at this point about what exactly caused this sudden departure. Just yesterday, the former magazine executive turned schools chancellor was speaking just yesterday about how she would move the NYC public school system forward. Some say she resigned but other sources say Mayor Bloomberg decided over the weekend that Black simply had to go.
In a press conference this afternoon, the mayor repeatedly said he wanted to move forward and offered very little information. Instead, he simply said that he and Black both reached this decision together:
“It is in the city’s best interest that she step down. I take full responsibility for the fact that this did not work out. The story had really become about her and away from the kids and that’s not right.”
Black’s position as chancellor coupled with the fact that she had no educational experience not only caused outrage but a lawsuit. Her lack of experience quickly escalated into every situation and she became the story rather than the city’s schoolchildren and their faltering system. Initially, Bloomberg stressed her publishing credentials and success in corporate America as strengths which would help her run the school system. But that was always unbelievable. I would be the first one to agree that the publishing world is one crazy zoo, and only someone who has closed magazines at all hours of the night while watching the clock tick to deadline can fully understand, so while Black may have possessed the damage control quality that our failing schools needed, she had no education experience or background, rendering her unable to lawfully take the position without a waiver.
Then there were those comments she made about using birth control as a way of addressing overcrowding, and the time she likened her hard choices to those of a Holocaust victim from the novel and movie “Sophie’s Choice.” She was regularly greeted to a roomful of boos from parents at meetings and became the subject of protests. Since her taking over the job, four out of eight of her top deputies resigned.
Has Mayor Bloomberg seen the light and finally listened to the masses of parents who demand that we have an educational professional take over the helm of the nation’s largest school system?
The Mayor announced that Black will be replaced by Dennis M. Walcott, who was the educational deputy mayor and has aided the mayor in educational matters. If his chosen replacement is any indication, it looks like he just might have gotten it right this time.
Walcott is the current Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development. He grew up in the city and was schooled in the public school system. He was also a teacher in a child care center and founded a mentoring program for boys, as well as working in many community centers. He knows the challenges facing city kids today and is also a professor of social work at York College.
While most officials say they are still stunned at the sudden announcement and Black’s rapid departure, most agree that it is in the best interest of New York City’s children, and that is what matters most.
Source: The New York Times