State Education Commissioner Appoints Panel to Screen Cathie Black

The President of Teachers College will chair a panel to advise whether publishing executive Cathie Black is suited to be the city's next schools chancellor. State Education Commissioner David Steiner announced the eight member panel which also includes the superintendents of Rochester and Yonkers and two former New York City deputy chancellors.

Professor Pedro Noguera, a sociologist who studies urban education at New York University, says the panelists are all reputable.

"Steiner’s aware that this is very controversial," he says. "And a lot of times when you are facing a tough decision like this you want to have some backup."

The panel will help Steiner decide whether Black's publishing experience at Hearst Magazines and USA TODAY makes her "exceptionally qualified" to receive a waiver from rules requiring her to have education credentials. State education law says a candidate for chancellor or superintendent who doesn't have specific education credentials must have "exceptional training and experience" which are the "substantial equivalent" of such requirements.

Commissioner Steiner won't say when a decision will be made except that he's "mindful of the need for prompt action."

The panel members are:

Andres Alonso, CEO of the Baltimore Schools and former Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning for NYC from 2006-07.

Jean-Claude Brizard, Superintendent of the Rochester City Schools, and a former regional superintendent for the NYC Department of Education under Chancellor Joel Klein.

Michele Cahill, vice president for national programs and director of urban education at Carnegie Corporation and former senior counselor to Chancellor Joel Klein on education policy. Klein had wanted to promote Cahill to Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning but couldn't because she lacked the right credentials under state law.

Dr. Ronald F. Ferguson, Senior Lecturer in Education and Public Policy at Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Kennedy School. 

Susan Fuhrman, President of Teachers College, Columbia University.

Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New York Historical Society and former Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at CUNY.

Bernard Pierorazio, Superintendent of Yonkers Public Schools.

Kenneth Slentz, Associate Commissioner for the New York State Education Department's Office of District Services, overseeing education design and technology.