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Does New York City Give Preferential Treatment to White Schools Chancellor Candidates?

Since 2000, chancellors lacking the credentials to run New York City's schools have been granted waivers. Critics say that's because they're white.

Did former Hearst Magazines Chairman Cathie Black get a waiver to become chancellor of New York City’s public schools because she's white? According to Roger Wareham, a human rights attorney and member of the Brooklyn-based Freedom Party, the answer is, "Yes."

Wareham has filed a petition against a host of players-including Mayor Bloomberg and State Education Commissioner David Steiner, who was involved in both Black's appointment and the granting of the waiver. The waiver enables Black to become chancellor despite lacking a master's degree required by the state.

According to Wareham, racism is at play in Black's appointment and the granting of the waiver because, “any white person can run the public schools system as long as they have the right connections. Every black and Latino has always had the qualifications that are required by law.”

Indeed, the city's 101-year-old black press, New York Amsterdam News, suggests that Wareham's claim may have merit.

According to the paper, "former Black and Latino chancellors that were qualified and needed no waiver include: Dr. Richard Green, Nathan Quinones, Anthony Alverado, Dr. Joseph Fernandez, Ramon C. Cortines and Rudy Crew."

In contrast to the candidates of color who came into office equipped with both experience and academic credentials, "unqualified white chancellors who did need a waiver are: Harold Levy, Joel Klein, Robert Wagner (attempted to get waiver) and Cathleen Black."

Wareham and his Freedom Party have protested Black's appointment at the Department of Education headquarters every day this week. The party's goal is to not only ensure that Cathie Black does not take office in January, but to also insist that the city, "find a qualified black or Latino chancellor to lead a school system that is more than 80 percent minority."

Photo (cc) via Flickr user GothamSchools

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