Cathie Black Is Out as Schools Chancellor

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Schools Chancellor Cathie Black, the controversial ex-publishing executive who took over the post three months ago, is leaving her position.

Black, who was appointed to the post by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in December, will be replaced by Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, the mayor announced today.

"We have mutually agreed that it's in the city's best interest that she steps down as chancellor," said Bloomberg, who said he took "full responsibility" for it not working out and that he thought Black did an "admirable job."

Black had her approval ratings plummeted to 17 percent this month, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. The former Hearst magazine chairwoman who was known as "The First Lady of American Magazines" was criticized for her lack of experience in education.

She replaced Joel Klein, who had held the position for eight years before he left for News Corp. late last year. At the time, Bloomberg said he was looking for a "world-class manager" to lead the Department of Education. 

In her second month on the job, Black was booed at hearings held to close two dozen New York City public schools. As Chancellor she oversaw more than 1.1 million students, 1,600 schools and and $21 million operating budget.


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Comments [34]

Michael Meltzer

Bloomberg has his work cut out for him to get federal and state budget cuts to education restored, or to fight further cuts. He simply cannot at the same time have to defend any criticism, right or wrong, of how he is managing the system.
He is looking down the pike, that's the right thing to do.

Apr. 07 2011 10:53 PM
Joseph Cavalieri from east village new york

wow - I was going to do an art piece named the "Cathie Black Box" where the face of Cathie would change depending on the mood of the viewer. (similar to

Something told me not to.

Wondering if she will go back to magazine work, which I know first hand she was pretty genius at.

Apr. 07 2011 05:55 PM
James from Brooklyn

Black was a mistake from the begining. I can't believe that Bloomberg's people didn't advise him better at the outset. I like Walcott in theory, but he has never challenged the mayor anything of substance - that makes me nervous. I think Bloomberg inserted Walcott as a proxy do do what he himself wants to do. Otherwise, why not give the job to Polokow-Seransky...

Apr. 07 2011 04:24 PM
Charles T

So to do the same work the more qualified black man gets paid less than the unqualified white woman does? Why should Dennis Walcott take less salary as the new schools Chancellor if he's more qualified than hizzoner's BFF Cathie Black? This just blows a hole in the theory that the best and the brightest deserve the most pay. With "friends" like Bloomberg Walcott doesn't need any enemies.

Apr. 07 2011 02:34 PM
Jonathan from Brooklyn

I only want to hear 3 words from Bloomberg. "I WAS WRONG".

Apr. 07 2011 01:30 PM
skip10468 from Bronx

I'm a teacher w/15yrs in NYC. Arne Duncan spoke to Al -Tawana Brawley-Sharton's group the day before, "complaining" that nyc is losing 50k dropouts to the streets. A wise man once said "DUH" Where are those kids gonna go? Ever since Bloomberg took control of the schools things have gotten worse. Principals from the "Leadership Academy" and other administrators who sleep in their office (Feren) and don't do anything to help teachers are part of the problem. The other part of the problem are the parents of these kids.

Apr. 07 2011 01:29 PM
Mr. Praetorious from Bronx New York

The large bags under Ms. Black's eyes indicates she may have a serious medical condition i.e. her kidneys.

Apr. 07 2011 12:37 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I have less of a problem w/Black herself than w/Bloomberg & the way he handled her appointment, esp. his misleading statement that the 1st person she met after being appointed was teachers union president Michael Mulgrew. He did say "met," not "met with," but he said it in a way & in a context (in answer to a reporter's question, I think) that implied she had a meeting w/him. Then Mulgrew told Brian on the show that they didn't actually have a meeting, she was just coming out of the mayor's office as he was on his way in, & Bloomberg introduced them. It even occurred to me that Bloomberg might have set up his schedule that way so he *could* say Mulgrew was the 1st person Black had met. I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't put it past him; if he did, it was not just deceptive but manipulative.

Apr. 07 2011 12:33 PM

How exactly was Michelle Rhee competent as
other than a media darling?
Did she have the trust of teachers and parents?
Or can we just dismiss their opinions.
Let's not buy into the mythology quite so quickly.

Apr. 07 2011 12:23 PM
Here in NYC from UWS

Bloomberg did a disservice to Cathy Black by hiring her in the first place. It is the boss' job to ensure that a new hire will succeed in the role. Cathy Black was apparently persuaded by Bloomberg that she could succeed and
now she is on the street paying for his stubbornness. This time he "asked" Joel Klein .. he should have last time too.

Apr. 07 2011 12:03 PM
Susan from NYC

Glad to hear it--her arrogance was matched only by her inexperience. We were forced to pay her $250,000/y while paying her babysitter, mandated by the state, $192,000/y to actually do her job. The city can't afford to provide sinecures for the mayor's girlfriend’s friends. Bloomberg thinks he's Berlusconi.

Apr. 07 2011 12:00 PM
Andy B. from NYC

I was hoping Bloomberg would appoint, Lloyd Blankfein, the Goldman Sachs CEO.

Who more than he would know how to squeeze more cash out of the Federal government for the system?

Apr. 07 2011 12:00 PM

Wow, why didn't Mayor Bloomburg appoint this guy in the first place? He sounds perfect for the job...and he likes waffles!

Apr. 07 2011 11:58 AM
rob from queens

Is it just me or can Bloomberg not simply admit to a mistake, constant deflection it's so frustrating.

Apr. 07 2011 11:57 AM

Rich people are so used to getting their butts kissed I guess she couldn't stand the reality that she's not "special". Sort of like these Wall St. dumbasses who feel "hurt" when they get chewed out in Washington for ruining the country.

Apr. 07 2011 11:57 AM
RJ from prospect hts.

And of course no apology from the mayor for his condescension and dismissal of the parents and community people.

Apr. 07 2011 11:55 AM
RJ from prospect hts.

Exactly right, Ken.

Apr. 07 2011 11:53 AM
OJ from Newark

Why didn't Bloomberg hire this guy in the first place? he sounds perfect.

Apr. 07 2011 11:53 AM
Ken from Little Neck

Amazing how Bloomberg just ran off a huge list of his experience in NY public schools, from student, to teacher, to administrator, and then claimed this made him the most qualified person to take over the job. Funny how he was making the exact opposite argument a few months ago when he was talking about "management experience". Why didn't he just appoint Walcott, who seems eminently qualified, in November?

Apr. 07 2011 11:50 AM
Scott from Prospect Heights

What a shame as this critical appointment has been a huge failure. But the lack of credibility she developed since her appt. left the Mayor no other choice. I think it's good he moved quickly here to cut his losses and I wish Walcott much luck. It is going to take more than photo opps of him making waffles with kids, but seems better suited for this task.

Apr. 07 2011 11:49 AM

I am so happy about this... common sense won out in this case... small victory. Please have a good educator who has teaching experience for chancellor.

At least she found out she just doesn't like kids

Apr. 07 2011 11:46 AM
"tony" from park slope

John, she wasn't qualified.

Apr. 07 2011 11:45 AM
Eleanor Lunn from Jackson Heights

Joel Klein had no education experience either yet he was Chancellor for 8 years and did a lousy job. This witch hunt of Cathie Black smacks of sexism. Having said that, it behooves NY voters to be wary of billionaires running for office. People are afraid of someone with lots of money and power. We need a mayor who is answerable to the people, not a god.

Apr. 07 2011 11:44 AM
RJ from prospect hts.

No, Ms. Purnick, we *don't* have to respect his inability to listen to those more knowledgeable than him and his ability to make a quick turnaround to cover his butt and avoid further embarrassment.

Apr. 07 2011 11:44 AM
john from office

Good for her, Ms, Black was qualified as a manager. The "public" and union did not like her because she was rich and white.

The Baron crowd, hated her for that. So lets appoint a unqualified Baron type to further limit the future for poor children. The parents are shooting themselves in the foot.

Apr. 07 2011 11:41 AM
RJ from prospect hts

Private sector people have *no clue* what it takes to work within the public sector. The accountability demanded on a day-to-day basis is brutal compared to the occasional/quarterly requirements of corporations.

And heaven forbid that the mayor should have looked down his nose long enough to actually listen to parents and communities, rather than rid himself of those on the EPP disagreeing with him, whatever minuscule power they have.

The most curious thing about this press conference that we're waiting for, since most of the salient issues are known (she's out, Walcott's in) is whether he'll have the humility to admit his error and that he maybe should have listened closer to community people.

Apr. 07 2011 11:40 AM
John from Brooklyn

I suspect she wasn't prepared for all the public attention, & decided to get out before this little misadventure permenantly derailed her career.

Apr. 07 2011 11:40 AM
Peter from Queens

Brian I cannot believe that you just said Michelle Rhee was competent. Have you not seen the recent news about the cheating scandals? Have you not seen the news about the DC district having to rehire the teachers she fired capriciously, and give them back pay?

Apr. 07 2011 11:36 AM
RLewis from the bowery

Parents could yell all they want and Black wasn't going anywhere, but let 4 deputies resign in a row and that's the kind of sign that Bloomburg understands.

Apr. 07 2011 11:31 AM
Jules from Manhattan, NY

perhaps Bloomberg was just on a mission to get Klein out and needed a stand in for a while until they find someone who is actually qualified. Like those consultant firms that provide acting CEO's for big companies.

Apr. 07 2011 11:31 AM
Peter from Queens

As a teacher-in-training, all I can say is thank god. Maybe now we can all agree that business-minded managers can't solve all of our social problems.

Apr. 07 2011 11:29 AM
coolmikeperry from Harlem


Mr. Mayor can we please have an educator as Chancellor?

Apr. 07 2011 11:19 AM
Judy from New York

I agree, my first reaction is"great!".. She never sounded qualified for this position- it always smacked of cronyism to me!

Apr. 07 2011 11:18 AM

Sounds like a good thing to me!

Apr. 07 2011 11:06 AM

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