Now that Mayor Bloomberg has accepted state Education Commissioner David Steiner's suggestion that city Schools Chancellor appointee Cathie Black serve with a second-in-command more familiar with the education system, there seems to be nothing keeping him from granting the waiver that would allow her to serve. Except for those possible restraining orders. Steiner is expected to grant the waiver as early as today, but now more opponents are threatening legal action if she is granted the position.
Carmen Applewhite, a teacher and member of the Coalition for Public Education told WNYC, "If you go for surgery and the administrator of the hospital tells you that the doctor never went to medical school but he got a waiver, but we're going to get someone to stand in the operating room and read a manual while he cuts you open, I don't think anybody would accept that." She and others also argue that they've found no legal precedent for the compromise. Civil Rights Attorney Norman Siegel said, "What we will do in the days to come is take a look to see whether or not this situation has arisen, anywhere in any of the other 49 states. And then, and only then, once we have a comprehensive understanding of the issues, will we make the strategic decision of whether to go to court or not."
But do you know who's fighting in Black's corner? Oprah's BFF Gayle King! For what it's worth, King said, "She may not have the education experience, but Cathie Black is scary smart. She knows what it takes to run a company." Unfortunately, the city's school system is not really a company, and many parents are even more outraged that proposed Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky has 15 years of experience, compared to Black's none. One woman asked, "Why would they appoint somebody with more experience than she has on the lower level, and give her the top job? It doesn't make sense."
The city's Department of Education is trying to get everyone to just simmer down, and said, "It's time to put our politics aside and recognize that it's in all our kids' interest for Cathie Black to succeed as our next Chancellor." She said so herself! So just follow her lead by putting your kids in private school and everything will be fine.