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First Day at School: Chancellor Black Begins With a Tour

Monday, January 03, 2011

Newly appointed schools chancellor Cathie Black spent little time dwelling on the challenges facing the nation's largest school system during her first day.

Instead, the city's controversial publishing executive-turned-chancellor toured schools in the five boroughs Monday and said she has found much to admire about city schools in the two months since her appointment. 

"The commitment of those principals, the commitment of the teachers and also the tremendous amount of parental involvement,” Black said, “I mean it's just very impressive."

At Democracy Prep Charter School in Harlem, Black got an earful from parent Dan Clark, whose son, Dan Jr., got into the school through a lottery.

“Every child ought to have this opportunity,” said Clark, noting the school in his neighborhood is significantly lacking. “They shouldn’t have to be lucky. We got lucky. That’s all it is. Shouldn’t be about luck.”

Black said she supports charter schools, but they’re just one option.

“We’ve got 1.1 million students to educate,” Black said. “We’re very proud of [charter schools]. Their success record is fantastic. But we also have to look at the other public schools and make them as best and as good as we possibly can.”

Black spent most of the tour asking questions, and unlike predecessor Joel Klein did not pause to address classes or offer pep talks.

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