Yesterday, longstanding Schools Chancellor Joel Klein abruptly resigned to join the team at News Corp. as a senior adviser. “I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for giving me the best job of my life and for being there every step of the way in the effort to improve education for our students," he said during a press conference yesterday. "I am thrilled that the Mayor has selected Cathie Black, a distinguished leader, to move this work forward." But as Manhattan BP Scott Stringer put it, "Google's going to be kept very busy today. Who is she? And why was she picked to be New York City schools chancellor?"
Well, Google and ye shall receive. For the past 15 years, Black, 66, has been the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, earning her the nickname of "The First Lady of Magazines." Before that the Chicago native was the President and Publisher of USA Today and the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Newspaper Association of America, to name a few positions. And despite her lack of experience in the education world, Bloomberg said, "She is brilliant, she is innovative, she is driven - and there is virtually nobody who knows more about the needs of the 21st century workforce for which we need to prepare our kids."
Critics are already questioning why her publishing background makes her eligible to run the city's public schools. Black does serve on the board of the Harlem Village Academy charter school, but the Daily News notes her own children were sent to the Kent School, a boarding school, in Connecticut. When City Council member Tony Avella, a longstanding Klein opponent, heard of her appointment, he told the Observer, "Oh for crying out loud! Out of the frying pan and into the fire, I guess. Obviously he doesn't get the message. You can't transpose one managerial executive from one industry to the Department of Education. We need someone there who understands how to develop curriculum, who understand parental involvement, who understands what principals, teachers and students go through on a daily basis. In my opinion a magazine publisher doesn't cut it."
Charles Barron had some similar words: "C'mon now. She is not an educator. How many times are we going to make this mistake? She should not be in there. This city has some great educators in the Black and Latino community. It's time to consult those educators."