Reporting Marcia Kramer
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After holding the position for three months, Cathie Black resigned Thursday as New York City Schools Chancellor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced.
Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott will replace Black. Bloomberg said Walcott was his first choice for the job to succeed Black.
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“There’s no one who knows New York City public schools and the challenges that we are confronting today better than Dennis,” Bloomberg said.
“I consider myself very blessed and very lucky to be asked,” Walcott said.”I am a believer in what we do. We are the greatest city in the world. Our residents expect our school system to be the best in the world.”
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“We have one bottom line, and our one bottom line is our 1.1 million students,” Walcott added.
For someone who just took one for the team, Cathie Black was the picture of grace Thursday after her ouster, reports CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer.
“I have loved the principals and the teachers and the kids,” she said. “Dennis Walcott is a great guy, we have a wonderful relationship. I wish everybody the best.”
The mayor’s decision to dump his own pick for schools chancellor was anything but grateful, but Bloomberg did take the fall – sort of.
“I take full responsibility for the fact that this has not worked out,” he said.
Walcott joined the Bloomberg administration in 2002. He is a Queens native and graduated from New York City public schools. Before joining the Bloomberg administration, he was the CEO of the New York Urban League.
Upon approval from the New York State Board of Regents, Walcott will step down as Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development.
As Deputy Mayor, Walcott oversaw and coordinated the operations of the Department of Education, the New York City Housing Authority, the Department of Youth and Community Development, and the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education. He also reviews the activities of the New York City School Construction Authority, City University of New York, and the City University Construction Fund.
Walcott is also responsible for collaborating with community-based organizations citywide and coordinating policies concerning youth programs and adult education. He will keep his $213,000 deputy mayor salary and not get the $250,000 chancellor pay.
“He volunteered to do that, but I would have made him do it anyways,” Bloomberg said.
Walcott sidestepped questions about whether Bloomberg erred in appointing Black; he said he “thinks the world of Cathie” and hopes to continue working with her. He did not specify what projects he would he would work with her on.
Asked if he should have been Bloomberg’s first choice to replace Klein, Walcott made it clear that he is a team player.
“You have to remember, I’m a happy camper,” he said, adding, “I serve at the pleasure of the mayor.”
Black, a former executive with Hearst Media with no professional education experience, officially took over the post for Joel Klein in January.
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At PS 29 in Brooklyn Thursday, some parents sounded off about Black, saying she was ill-suited for the job.
“I think she didn’t really have any qualifications for the job so it doesn’t surprise me that she didn’t last too long. Bloomberg has to eat a little crow, but…it was his decision to hire her in the first place,” Aaron Rennie told CBS 2′s John Slattery.
“I think it’s actually a good thing. I mean, she didn’t really have the experience with education and was a little clueless. I mean she showed that as far as evidence when it came to any of her interviews,” Julianna Brown Deriggs said.
Kathy Nobles, who has taught physical education for 12 years, said Black’s departure was “awesome.”
“I think I’m glad she’s gone. I thought from the very beginning we should have someone that had an education background,” Nobles said.
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The United Federation of Teachers sidestepped the issue of Black’s departure. Union President Michael Mulgrew was asked what grade would give her.
“She wasn’t in class for the semester, so I would feel that it would not be proper for me to give her a grade,” he said.
A recent Marist poll showed Black’s approval rating at 17 percent. That appears to have been the last straw.
“[Cathie Black] loves New York and she wants to do what’s right for the families and students that we serve,” Bloomberg said. “She and I met this morning and we have mutually agreed that it is in the city’s best interest if she steps down as chancellor.”
“We both agreed that the story had become her and should be about the students,” Bloomberg said.
“We’re going to look forward,” said Bloomberg, rebuffing questions as to whether he made a mistake in pushing for her appointment in the first place. “I will say I take full responsibility for the fact that this has not worked out as either of us have hoped and expected,” Bloomberg added.
Walcott currently serves on the board of the Trust for Governors Island, and previously served as Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Commission for Construction Opportunity.
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