View Full Version : Cathie Black appointed as the new DoE Chancellor

November 16th, 2010, 11:32 PM
Cathie Black Tapped As NYC Schools Chancellor

Nov. 9 2010 - 4:08 pm | 1,642 views | 1 recommendation | 2 comments (http://blogs.forbes.com/carolinehoward/2010/11/09/cathie-black-tapped-as-nyc-schools-chancellor/#post_comments)
http://blogs-images.forbes.com/carolinehoward/files/2010/11/cathleen-black_270x190.jpg (http://blogs-images.forbes.com/carolinehoward/files/2010/11/cathleen-black_270x190.jpg)

Joel Klein, who spent eight years as Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, is stepping down. His replacement is Hearst Magazines Chairperson and Forbes Power Woman Cathie Black (http://www.forbes.com/profile/cathleen-black) (No. 67).
Black, 66, who will be the city’s first female chancellor and will oversee 1.1 million public school children, 136,000 employees (including 80K teachers), 1,600 schools and an operating budget of more than $21 billion, according to the DOE website (http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/mediarelations/ChancellorsBiography/Chancellors+Bio.htm), is a surprise pick. Or, as my colleague Jeff Bercovici puts it, “a head-scratcher.” (http://blogs.forbes.com/jeffbercovici/2010/11/09/hearst-magazines-cathie-black-to-run-nyc-schools-somehow/)

The search has been dubbed secretive, and Black has no previous professional experience in education, “limited exposure to unions” and is a money-where-your-mouth-is advocate of charter schools; she’s on the Advisory Council of the Harlem Village Academy charter school. Very controversial.

She steps directly into further controversies over standardized testing, teacher accountability and overcrowded classrooms.

According to the webcast of the conference, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg was asked why he picked another non-educator–Klein had previously been chairman and chief executive officer of global publisher Bertelsmann, Inc.–he replied that the new chancellor could rely on the “formidable cadre of educational experts” within the DOE. He further said that he “picked people of different backgrounds” and “They happen to be people I know.”

A mother of two children who attended private boarding schools in Connecticut, Black moves in similar social and philanthropic circles as the billionaire mayor. She was hailed by Bloomberg in an afternoon press conference as “a great New Yorker,” and described as “brilliant, innovative and driven” and “a superstar manager who has succeeded in the private sector.”

Dubbed “The First Lady of American Magazines,” she is widely credited for the initial success of USA Today, where she was president, publisher and a board member. At Hearst she had managed 14 magazine titles, including Cosmopolitan, Esquire and O, The Oprah Magazine, as well as international editions and digital expansion.
Klein, 64, the longest serving chancellor in NYC history, is headed to News Corp., as executive vice president to advise chairman Rupert Murdoch “on opportunities to invest in digital initiatives in the education market,” according to the Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704635704575604781649624438.html). He was nominated under the auspices of mayoral control to a decidedly mixed report card by parents, teachers, students and community members. No word on why Klein quit, although he committed to staying for up to two terms, or eight years, in 2002.
Could this be a pipeline for Cathie Black For Mayor 2013?


I don't know how many of you are following this but given that education is probably one of the most vital contributors to this city's health I am somewhat shocked at this appointment. At first glance it appears that this magazine mogul/Coca-Cola, IBM boardmember/private school educated woman has no actual experience to make her a fit for this job, but then one must ask if a busnisswoman is exactly who is needed to run a horribly failing department that needs fixing.

What is the purpose of education to the City of New York these days? Our public schools are a strange mix of superb institutions scattered among a sea of dropout factories. This is evident at almost every level, from elementary schools all the way to CUNY.

Are we supposed to look for someone who will help our city's kids "get jobs" or someone who understand education a lot better and can remedy the problem of the actual communication of knowledge?

November 16th, 2010, 11:55 PM
... I am somewhat shocked at this appointment. At first glance it appears that this magazine mogul/Coca-Cola, IBM boardmember/private school educated woman has no actual experience to make her a fit for this job...

That Coke job is coming back to haunt her (and possibly should haunt parents of school kids as well) ...

As Bloomberg Fought Sodas, Nominee Sat on Coke Board

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/17/nyregion/17coke.html?ref=nyregion)
David M. Halbfinger contributed reporting.
November 16, 2010

By her own account, Cathleen P. Black, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s choice to be the next New York City schools chancellor, has had almost no experience with the public education system.

But for nearly 20 years, she played an influential role in a company that did: Coca-Cola.

As America awoke to a national obesity epidemic and schools tried to rid their hallways of sugary drinks, Coca-Cola emerged as the biggest and most aggressive opponent of the scientists, lawmakers and educators who tried to sound the alarm.

The company unleashed a flurry of lobbyists, donations and advertising to fight the efforts, prompting local officials to describe it as “bullying” and “unconscionable.” Even as other large food manufacturers embraced the public-health measures, Coca-Cola dug in its heels, rewarding schools that kept selling its products and threatening those that would not, officials said.

Through most of these battles, Ms. Black, the magazine executive nominated last week to lead the nation’s largest school system, was one of 14 people on the company’s board of directors, and she sat on a company committee that focused on policy issues including obesity and selling soda to children. On a board that meets six times a year, she was privy to internal debates about the company’s combative strategy, and there is no public evidence that she ever questioned it.

“I don’t think we’ve gone to a single meeting in the last two years where we haven’t discussed that issue,” said Donald McHenry, a longtime Coke board member and a professor at Georgetown University who sat on the committee with Ms. Black.

Mr. McHenry would not characterize Ms. Black’s views on the topic, and she has declined interview requests since she was tapped. A spokesman for Coca-Cola and a spokesman for the city both declined to discuss Ms. Black’s role in the debate over how to handle the issue of sodas in schools.

Ms. Black resigned from the Coke board this week, citing potential conflicts of interest, but her time at the company is especially striking because the man who chose her for the schools job has declared soda an urgent public health menace and has plastered the city’s subway cars with advertisements that liken drinking it to ingesting goopy liquid fat.

“Normally, I would think that somebody who served for 18 years on the board of this junk-food producer is tainted,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“If you’re judged by the people with whom you hang out, it’s not a good sign,” said Dr. Jacobson, whom Mr. Bloomberg recently nominated for a national health “hero award” and who received it last month. “But I wouldn’t say it’s disqualifying. I don’t know what role she played on the board. It could be she was pushing them to cut the sugar or sell fruits and vegetables. It’s hard to know.”

He added, “I don’t want to be naïve, because I don’t know what she pushed for, if anything — or was it easy money?”

Asked about the apparent conflict between Mr. Bloomberg’s views and the work of his nominee, a spokeswoman for the mayor reiterated his opposition to the sale of sugary drinks in schools and his support of Ms. Black, saying the policy would continue under her chancellorship.

In nominating Ms. Black, Mr. Bloomberg said she would bring corporate innovation and management savvy to the sprawling system. But her record at Coca-Cola shows she will bring corporate baggage as well.

Ms. Black had been on the board since 1990, except for a brief leave, earning well over $2.1 million in cash and stock over the years, according to Equilar, which studies corporate pay. (Her current stock holdings in Coca-Cola are worth $3.3 million.)

During Ms. Black’s tenure, pressure intensified on soda companies to limit sales in schools after Dr. David Satcher, the surgeon general, in 2001 declared obesity a national crisis with “tragic results.” He urged local communities to lead the fight. And much to the beverage industry’s chagrin, they did.

In 2003, California and New York City banned the sale of soft drinks in elementary and middle schools. At the same time, a coalition of lawyers who had successfully sued tobacco companies began developing strategies for taking on food companies, threatening a barrage of lawsuits.

By 2006, when Connecticut tried for the second year in a row to join the wave of local governments barring sugary drinks at schools, Coke and other companies pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into a bare-knuckle battle to stop the legislation.

According to Connecticut state officials, Coke lobbyists warned school districts that if the legislation passed, Coke would stop providing money for after-school programs, which it had done in exchange for the right to put vending machines on campus.

State Senator Donald E. Williams Jr., who sponsored the legislation, recalled that company representatives “targeted urban legislators and reminded them that the soda companies often contributed significant amounts of money to schools to buy scoreboards and to supplement their needs.” (At the time, Coke denied making any threats.)

The fight in Connecticut put a harsh spotlight on Coke’s longstanding practice of rewarding school districts for exclusive contracts to sell its beverages. Lawmakers revealed that Coke paid a higher commission to schools for the sale of carbonated drinks than for juice or water. And they showed that the company dispensed “marketing bonuses ” to districts that signed on, including free supplies of sports drinks and Coke-branded coolers to be placed on the sidelines at athletic fields.

Connecticut’s attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, called the strategies “unconscionable.” The state law was enacted by a slim margin.

About the same time, under pressure from the growing tide of state legislation and the intensifying threat of lawsuits, Coke eventually agreed to not sell sugary soda in American schools (the agreement allowed diet sodas and sports drinks to still be available in high schools).

But it was not long before Coke once again pushed the envelope. This March, the leading soda makers seemed to reached a milestone agreement to stop selling sugar-laden drinks to schools around the world, bowing to critics who argued that the companies were still exploiting children in emerging markets like India and China.

But while Pepsi said it would keep the drinks out of all schools, Coke carved a loophole, conspicuously reserving the right to sell them depending on local demand. “Shame on Coca-Cola,” proclaimed the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“High school students everywhere deserve the same help as American high schoolers,” the group said.

In New York, where Ms. Black is the chancellor in waiting, her likely new boss, Mr. Bloomberg went well beyond school grounds, trying to curtail soda consumption with a new statewide tax on sugary drinks.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi bottlers, joined by the American Beverage Association, a trade group, spent heavily on an elaborate television campaign featuring hard-up mothers and children stocking the family refrigerator with beverages. The proposal was defeated.

Mr. McHenry, the Coke board member, said he opposed the efforts, like those in New York City, to single out individual products and companies as an unfair overreaction. “The ads in New York City and the approach in New York City is not fact-based,” he said. “It’s good publicity, but I just think it’s poor science.”

Asked how Ms. Black might handle the issue as chancellor, he said, “I am sure Cathie’s effort is the same as mine would be: to make sure that people make policy on the basis of science and facts, and let those things guide you.”

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

November 17th, 2010, 11:10 AM
So Bloomberg thinks someone from the business world is needed to run the public school system.

Fair enough.

But of all the people in management positions and sitting on executive boards to choose from, why did he settle on someone with this particular baggage to lug around, no experience at all with educational administration, and no experience as student or parent with a public school system.

On top of that, Cathie Black is from an industry in decline - magazine publishing.

Maybe she just needs a job.

Because of her lack of experience in education, a waiver must be granted by state education commissioner, David Steiner. A resolution is floating around in the City council requesting that Steiner deny the waiver.

There's also a petition (http://www.petitiononline.com/DenyWaiv/) to stop the appointment.

January 21st, 2011, 04:43 AM
:rolleyes: :mad: Tacky tactlessness.

Parents see red after Black makes birth-control quip

By Aline Reynolds

Cathie Black, the city’s new schools chancellor, had little to say at last Thursday’s School Overcrowding Task Force meeting organized by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. But the little that she did say made headlines and sparked outrage around the city.

Task force member Eric Greenleaf, a business professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, has done extensive research on the population boom in Lower Manhattan and the resulting overcrowding in its public schools. When he presented his latest data to Black on Thursday, showing an estimated need for 1,000 additional seats by 2015, Black made a verbal gaffe that riled up the entire education community.

“Could we just have some birth control for a while? It would really help us all out,” joked Black.

The comment was “shocking,” according to Downtown parent Deborah Somerville and others.

Tina Schiller, a parent at P.S. 234, at Greenwich and Chambers Sts., who was opposed to Black’s appointment as chancellor, said she was not surprised by Black’s joke.

“It just kind of reiterates the lightness in which the D.O.E. takes our plight,” she said.

Others, like Tom Moore, P.T.A. co-president at Millennium High School, at 75 Broad St., merely took it as the Department of Education chief’s poor attempt at humor.

“I don’t think she meant anything by it,” he said, though adding, “it was probably in retrospect not a good idea.”

People elsewhere around the city also took offense at Black’s comment.

City Councilmember Julissa Ferreras of Queens, chairperson of the City Council’s Women’s Issues Committee, said she was “appalled and offended” by Black’s statement.

“The job of a chancellor,” said Ferreras, “is to ensure that our city’s children are being educated and have the tools to learn — not judge the reproductive choices of women in our city.”

Overcrowding, Ferreras continued, is not a joke to the children and parents in her district who are also dealing with the issue.

Natalie Ravitz, D.O.E. communications director, said in a statement that the chancellor takes the issue of overcrowding “very seriously, which is why she was engaged in a discussion with Lower Manhattan parents on the subject.”

“She regrets if she left a different impression by making an offhanded joke in the course of that conversation,” Ravitz said of Black.

Julie Menin, chairperson of Community Board 1, said she was “troubled” by Black’s overall feedback, which she considered to be “glib,” in that Black didn’t identify plans to combat “the very serious issue of school overcrowding.”

The chancellor made another verbal slip in describing D.O.E.’s rough financial terrain that she’s trying to navigate as chancellor.

“I don’t mean this in any flip way, but it is many Sophie’s choices,” she said of the hard decisions that must be made.

Her comment was an allusion to “Sophie’s Choice, the William Styron novel and film in which the character Sophie Zawistowski, a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, was forced to choose which of her two children lived or died.

Moore and others deemed it a poor analogy. There are a number of other parallels she could have drawn, Moore said; the one that Black went with was, in his opinion, “overly dramatic, and probably a little distasteful.”

Menin was upset with the chancellor’s quip.

“Cracking jokes and telling Downtown parents, even in jest, to use more birth control, and referring to [D.O.E.’s] choices as a ‘Sophie’s choice’ did not demonstrate a real and concrete, on-the-ground understanding of what parents face,” Menin wrote in an e-mail.

“The Dept. of Ed. has already made Sophie’s choices,” Schiller said in an e-mail. “They’ve already made clear we’re going to have a segregated system,” in terms of separating students by performance level.

In contrast, Speaker Silver, who led the task force meeting, was satisfied with Black’s performance. In a written statement, he said he was pleased that the chancellor attended the meeting and was able to hear firsthand from parents.

“Jokes aside,” said Silver, “I think she really heard the message that Lower Manhattan schools are in the midst of an overcrowding crisis, and I am hopeful we can work together to find a solution.”

Tamara Rowe, a Millennium High School parent and a task force member, felt cautiously optimistic about Black’s attempt to forge ties with the Downtown education community.

Rowe, like many task force members, appreciated Black’s appearance at the meeting, pointing out that Joel Klein never even attended one of Silver’s task force meetings in the two-and-a-half years of its existence while he was schools chancellor. But Rowe doubts Black’s willingness to change things.

“I think she’s trying to listen,” said Rowe. “I think I won’t know what it really means until I see the results.”

During the meeting, Menin and other task force members disparaged D.O.E. for not implementing a long-term strategy to relieve overcrowding.

“Everything is done piecemeal,” Menin told Black.

Members of the task force — mostly comprised of Downtown public school parents and school principals — discussed the lack of foresight D.O.E. has recently exhibited in accommodating Downtown schoolchildren, which, they say, led to the neighborhood’s current overcrowding crisis. Several members voiced concerns about designating 26 Broadway for an unscreened high school — meaning applicants aren’t evaluated by any performance criteria — as well as giving over empty classroom space in the Tweed Courthouse, on Chambers St. by City Hall, to an untested charter school.

In her second week, Black said she had “no gigantic new vision,” but that she and her team are “looking at things that are working.” She said she anticipated there would be “tough sledding” in deciding how to allocate the limited funding D.O.E. will receive in the coming fiscal year.

“Trying to balance all the competing forces is not easy at all,” Black said, noting upper Manhattan school districts are dealing with overcrowding issues similar to those Downtown.

“It’s clear that your needs are great, and we’ll try to deal with them as well as we possibly can,” said Black.

Task force member Shino Tanikawa, who is also a member of Community Education Council District 2 and a parent at P.S. 3, at Hudson and Christopher Sts., said the new chancellor doesn’t seem to have a vision for public schools, either Downtown or citywide.

“It’s time for her to think about what her priorities are for the city,” said Tanikawa. “You have to do planning. There’s no excuse for it.”


January 21st, 2011, 08:55 AM
That didn't take long.

January 21st, 2011, 09:42 AM
I hate Bloomberg's guts.

January 21st, 2011, 10:22 AM
Seriously, if you can't afford to put your kids in private school then why are you troubling society by having them in the first place?

January 21st, 2011, 10:32 AM
“Could we just have some birth control for a while? It would really help us all out"

Probably not the best thing to say if people don't know what you're about, but c'mon the comment is perfectly cool.

Are we in downtown Manhattan or some nightmare version of the BibleBelt?

January 21st, 2011, 10:47 AM

If she labeled a particular race, or sect for this comment, then it could have a bit more oompf, but this?

Even suggesting it makes no sense because it takes 4 years before the kids even enter school, so some people need to take a serious chill.

(Suggesting saving space on plane trips by people not taking their legs onboard would be another quip, but guaranteed that some group would find it "shocking" and offensive.)

January 21st, 2011, 10:50 AM
PS, one thing most need to take into account. When most of the comments of people being appalled and "shocked" are from people who "opposed" her appointment or have something to gain politically from either her removal, or just plain complaining about it, if all you have left is curb spittle, then you have nothing to worry about.

I would take the comments by some who say that it wasn't the best of jokes 'but whatever' as a good guideline to this. If you are more concerned about something said like this than what is actually being done it is time to start that prescription your doc has been pushing (not that he will not get any royalties or anything from the Pharms pushing it....)

January 21st, 2011, 11:17 AM
What we have when the first comment made by the new chancellor in regard to school overcrowding is that folks just need to plug it up is Failure to Communicate. It is simply bone headed. Joke or not. Very bad political move on her part. Probably could get away with such comments when she was a corporate boss (where the employees would probably chortle at such a comment, and no one would challenge her statements).

Black's job is to deal with the matter at hand: Not enough room & resources to properly educate the kids under her jurisdiction. Her job doesn't include the re-socialization of the adult citizens of NYC. In fact, she works for them.

January 21st, 2011, 11:27 AM
What she really wanted to say was : "I've had it up to here with these little bastards".

January 21st, 2011, 11:48 AM

The "suggestion" is not feasable. When you throw out something like that, that is clearly not an option, it is automatically assumed to be a farce and something to break the tension.

The problem is not with her, but with politics. If a comment like that, that targets NOBODY, is somehow found offebsive then we need to step back and see why. It sure as hell isn't because of the statement itself.

I would rather have someone who says innocent quips like that than someone who is more concerned with buttering up everybodies keister with a silver tongue before giving them "what-for" in the actual legislation...

January 21st, 2011, 11:53 AM
Things must have been so much easier for Cathie back at Hearst, where the teens are two dimensional (http://www.seventeen.com/) and her concern for kids included such hot button items as What to Wear for the Prom (http://www.seventeen.com/parties/prom/prom_gallery?click=SVN_NEW) and who can be found in the Hot Guy Gallery (http://www.seventeen.com/love/advice/hot-guy-panel?click=SVN_NEW).

Managing the buying habits of teens is entirely different than properly educating them (and the former could actually be at total odds with achieving good results in the latter).

January 21st, 2011, 12:34 PM
Partisan politics or opposition to Black's appointment had little or nothing to do with the reaction to her idiotic joke. If Joel Kline had made the comment, the reaction would have been the same.

School overcrowding has been a hot-button issue for years. Even before the Beekman tower went up, it was warned that the school there wouldn't be enough; and it wasn't appreciated that a few years ago Bloomberg used that school and PS 234 as political pressure, threatening to pull funding.

I've cracked jokes about some of my bosses in front of them, but that was after we got to know each other. Never did it at a first meeting. If I did and got in trouble for it, someone would have told me, "How could you be so stupid?"

January 21st, 2011, 12:39 PM

The question is not whether or not it was a smart thing to do, but whether or not it warranted such a hostile and vehement initial reaction.

EVERYONE deserves a few mulligans when they start out. If they continue to speak before they think and keep uttering more flat humor, then it is a time to come up and say "hey, you would really do better being quiet", but now?

No joke for you! Two weeks!!


January 21st, 2011, 12:55 PM
If there's a question involved, then you don't joke at all.

Her "mulligan" was rather large. She comes in with no credentials as an educator; carries negative baggage from her time at Coke; is a friend of the mayor, making her appointment seem like patronage.

So she meets with a group of people, and appears not to take the #1 issue seriously. Worst of all, she is unaware that parents NEVER joke about their children in political situations. And her job is chancellor of what?

Well, duh.

January 21st, 2011, 01:25 PM
Then fire her.

The people want to burn someone, let them.

January 21st, 2011, 02:26 PM
I'm pretty sure that as long as Bloomberg is mayor, she's staying. The day his successor takes office, sayonara.

January 21st, 2011, 03:21 PM
The question is this.

Will she be able to accomplish what needs to be done?

Is her primary duty the solving of school overcrowding or playing to the press?

Sometimes the best managers are DEFINITELY not the best PR people... That is why they HIRE people to do that for them.

Now that said, is it the best for us to make sure our decision makers are all experts in PR? Are the best PR people the best decision makers?

Again, this is an eye-roller. You don't need to start dragging the cross out yet.

January 21st, 2011, 03:34 PM
So why was she hired?

It's not like they needed to hire a thousand people, and got a few lemons. It's one job. They couldn't find anyone better than the mayor's friend?

January 21st, 2011, 03:51 PM
Good question,

But it also has to be taken into account the way the business world works.

Successful businesses not only go on what a person knows, but who they know. If they are familiar with the person and what they have done/can do, it is a less risky proposition. If they can get someone that someone they trust recommends, it is similar. that is why a referral means so much more than a resume in today's job market.

The thing that comes into question is whether or not the guy that THINKS the person can do the job is the best judge of the others capabilities.

From what I have seen, Bloomie seems to do well when it comes to general management, but not when it comes to PR. So him hiring someone that also put her foot to her forehead and called herself boss is no surprise. What needs to be done has already been done. Tell here "Ahem, that wasn't really very funny" and see what she can really do before we start calling for her resignation.

She is not an ambassador. She is not a PR agent. If she was, this would mean her statement would bring into doubt her ability to do what she was appointed for. All her statement does is question whether she should speak for herself at public events and press meetings.

As Bloomberg ALSO found out. Sometimes it is better to let someone else do (or write) the talking for you.

April 9th, 2011, 02:11 AM
The biggest joke of the year so far makes an early exit.

April 8, 2011, 2:03 pm

Reflections on the Relevance of Schools Chancellors


Poor Cathleen P. Black. She was so overmatched: 1.1 million children, 75,000 teachers, almost 1,700 schools. It’s a lot.

If anyone has disproved Woody Allen’s adage that 90 percent of life is showing up — it is Ms. Black.

At times, it was painful to watch. The 95-day reign of Ms. Black, the former chairman of the Hearst Corporation’s magazine division, makes another important point: Just because you’ve run something big, that doesn’t mean you can run the schools.

Which raises the question: How important is a chancellor under mayoral control of the schools?

For five of the last 10 years, I’ve covered education. I’ve been in hundreds of schools, interviewed more children, teachers and principals than I can count. In that time, I spoke one sentence to Joel I. Klein; not one to Ms. Black; and one to Dennis M. Walcott, the man picked to be the next chancellor.

The closest I got to Ms. Black was about 50 feet. It was Feb. 3 and the Panel for Educational Policy was deciding which low-performing schools would be closed.

Sitting on stage, she looked like a deer caught in the headlights. When a panel member asked her a question, an assistant would answer. When a panel member said he wanted to hear the chancellor answer, she didn’t.

Her management philosophy appeared to be: “Even a fish wouldn’t get caught if it kept its mouth shut.”

The one time I spoke to Dennis Walcott was at the only other educational panel meeting I ever attended, in 2004. The mayor wanted to enact a policy of mandatory retention for children who scored poorly on state tests.

This should have been easy. Under mayoral control, Mr. Bloomberg picks a majority of the panel members; they stay busy all night rubber-stamping his mandates.

Not this time. Defying the mayor, a majority of members said they would vote against the retention plan. Fortunately, the mayor had another plan. Hours before the vote, he kicked three members off the panel and replaced them with people who agreed with him on everything.

It was a wild meeting, and after it was over, the deputy mayor who served as the liaison to the Education Department, Mr. Walcott, was left to face the bloodthirsty mob. I asked him where the checks and balances were if the mayor could kick anyone off the panel who disagreed with him. “The mayor has said when he runs for re-election that he should be held accountable,” Mr. Walcott answered. In other words, every four years there’s a day of democracy; then it’s back to work.

Until Thursday, Mr. Walcott’s job was to make sure the Education Department stayed on the mayor’s course. At the February panel meeting, he stood on stage behind the curtain checking his BlackBerry, and when needed, he’d come out, whisper in the chancellor’s ear, then disappear behind the curtain again. By naming Mr. Walcott, the mayor is getting rid of the middle man — or middle woman.

There are a few things you actually need to know to cover education in New York City: The mayor is considered to be a national leader in what’s called the reform movement; he believes in the educational market place, standardized tests and charter schools; and it’s almost always the union’s fault.

The one thing the last two chancellors and the presumptive chancellor have in common: They believe the very same things the mayor believes.

I don’t feel I’ve missed much by not talking to chancellors. At the moment Ms. Black resigned, I was in Harlem, touring Public School 241, whose students have been moved into the basement to make room for a charter school.

The thing I love about education — after the politicians have finished micromanaging; after the think-tank scholars have massaged the latest studies; after the scientists in the Education Department have produced data to justify almost anything — good teachers can still go into their rooms, close their doors and teach.

When the children of New York City grow up, they will not remember who the chancellor was when they were in school. They will not remember the name of the secretary of education. But until the day they die, they will remember their kindergarten teachers.

Michael Winerip writes the On Education column. E-mail: oneducation@nytimes.com.

© 2011 The New York Times Company

April 11th, 2011, 08:23 AM
The thing I love about education — after the politicians have finished micromanaging; after the think-tank scholars have massaged the latest studies; after the scientists in the Education Department have produced data to justify almost anything — good teachers can still go into their rooms, close their doors and teach.

For now.

April 11th, 2011, 11:32 AM
When the children of New York City grow up, they will not remember who the chancellor was when they were in school. They will not remember the name of the secretary of education. But until the day they die, they will remember their kindergarten teachers.

I guess I'm the odd man out. I don't recall her name (but I can vaguely remember her face following a paste eating incident).

April 11th, 2011, 01:10 PM
I don't remember most of my teachers until about 3rd grade, and even then it is kind of fuzzy.

But then again, that does not make a very good narrative.