Opposition Continues To Bloomberg Education Appointee, Cathie Black

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[On Education]

On Sunday, November 28th, a coalition of parents and educators announced their opposition to the "compromise" that New York State Education
Commissioner David Steiner has brokered with City Hall appointing Cathleen Black as Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education with Shael Palakow-Suransky designated to serve as Ms. Black’s Senior Deputy Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer.

Parents, educators, and elected officials challenged the validity of such a deal and announced that they are considering legal action to ensure that
Black’s waiver is denied. "This compromise is not a compromise at all, but a very transparent and flimsy fig leaf that will allow Ms. Black to be in charge despite a complete lack of qualifications for the job," said Mona Davids, President of the New York Charter Parents Association.

"The deal brokered by Commissioner Steiner and Mayor Bloomberg satisfies neither the requirements of law nor those of our public schools," added
Lisa Donlan, a parent and President of Manhattan’s Community Education Council 1. " By requiring that a credentialed ‘number two’ serve alongside Ms. Black, the Commissioner has underlined the need for a Chancellor who actually meets the standards for training, experience and education set forth in the law – and the law does not allow for conditional waivers."

The education and community leaders highlighted critical facts.  Recent public opinion polls document that New Yorkers have opposed the appointment of Black by a 2-to-1 margin.  More than 13,000 parents, educators, and citizens have signed petitions against the waiver.  Most importantly, Commissioner Steiner's own advisory panel voted against granting the waiver.

“Rather than representing the people they serve, Commissioner Steiner and Mayor Bloomberg have dismissed democracy and highlighted the worst aspects of Mayoral control of schools through secretive back-room negotiations and an unacceptable outcome,” said Chris Owens, a parent and former Community School Board President in Brooklyn.

The opposition was echoed by several others.

"The entire thrust of this administration's reforms has shown a lack of respect for education, educators, and parents.  This appointment exemplifies
and is the culmination of that lack of respect," said Noah Gotbaum, parent and President of Community Education Council 3 of Manhattan.  "Why should the wishes of one autocratic billionaire supersede the needs of our children, the priorities of New Yorkers, and the wishes of stakeholders and the law? Last week, Commissioner Steiner and his committee stated unequivocally that Ms. Black did not possess the legal qualifications to become Chancellor.  Other than a backroom deal with the Mayor to circumvent the law, parents are asking what has changed over the past seven days?"

A parent, John Battis, noted: "A back room deal with the Mayor to get around the law, with a Vice-Chancellor acting as Ms. Black’s tutor, does not magically provide the necessary qualifications nor does it do anything to change the Commissioner's own admission that Ms. Black simply isn't qualified for this important position."

Others opposing Black's nomination include William McDonald, from Advocates for Change in Queens; Carmen Applewhite, New York City Public School Teacher and education advocate; and, Khem Irby, a parent in Brooklyn’s District 13.

"I think we need to look at the track record of the Commissioners of New York State.  The previous Commissioner granted Joel Klein a waiver.  We're still suffering from the make-believe business model principals in some of our schools," Irby said.

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