Critics Disparage Chancellor Pick; Mayor Defends Choice
NEW YORK (1010 WINS/CBS 2) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg is sticking to his guns a day after several lawmakers denounced at a news conference the selection of Cathie Black as Schools Chancellor.
On his weekly radio show on WOR-AM, Bloomberg insisted Friday that Black, the chairwoman of the Hearst publishing empire, has what it takes to run the nation’s largest school system.
Despite the mayor’s insistence, some parents and lawmakers are giving the mayor flack over his pick and working to derail it.
City Council Education Chair Robert Jackson wants the state to withhold approval for Black.
“The bottom line is, she has no experience,” Jackson told CBS 2′s Tony Aiello, “I’ve already put a phone call in to Mayor Bloomberg to ask him to withdraw her nomination.”
In a letter to state Education Commissioner David Steiner, Jackson stated “I do not see evidence of experience in education that a chancellor needs to guide our nation’s largest and most complex public school system.”
“This is an organization, an agency of the city, that deals with 1.1 million customers, has 135,000 employees, a budget of $23 billion a year,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg insists the position is a management job and that Black has all the experience necessary to replace Joel Klein who is joining News Corp.
“She’ll have plenty of educational experts to lean on, to help her in formulating policy,” Bloomberg said. “The real issue is does she have the character, the smarts and the courage to do what’s right – and I think this is the woman that does.”
He added that many people think Black is the one for the job. Bloomberg praises Black for being willing to take on what he says is a “tough, competitive job.”
One parent and education activist who spoke to Aiello faulted the mayor for not looking outside his own circle.
“Mayor Bloomberg considers the schools his private fiefdom to do whatever he wants with them, and he inhabits a bubble — a very small world of other billionaires and top corporate executives,” Leonie Haimson said.
The mayor is also rejecting criticism that he did not conduct a lengthy public search.
“To go through a lengthy search process in the middle of a school year is just not something that is in our kids’ interests – think about that,” Bloomberg said.
He adds that a public search would also limit applicants.
“Nobody would talk to you about a job if it was in the public demand because it’s too embarrassing to them if they don’t get selected,” Bloomberg said.
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