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Why Won't New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black Talk to the Press?

On her first day on the job, Cathie Black barely talked to reporters. Now her office won't respond to press requests about her schedule. What gives?

Given that she comes from a media background you would think the Chancellor-designee of New York City's public schools, former Hearst Magazines Chairman Cathie Black, would be comfortable talking to the press. But on her first day on the job, Black barely spoke to reporters, and side-stepped more substantive questions from a crowd of parents. Now Black's office reportedly isn't responding to requests from New York City media about her schedule and public appearances.

According to the New York Daily News, the city's education department press secretary Natalie Ravitz said they wouldn't reveal Black's schedule because:


...part of being chancellor is visiting schools and talking with principals, teachers, and parents openly and candidly about what is happening in their school community. Having TV cameras and reporters there is often not conducive to such an open and honest exchange. So there will be public visits and private visits.

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The trend of hiding Black from the press and the public began after her controversial appointment three weeks ago by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Black has yet to give a public speech about what she will do for New York's 1.1 million school children, and has yet to respond to critics who say she's unqualified for the job because she has zero education experience.

Black's Tuesday visit to Sedgwick School, Public School 109, in the Bronx to read to a group of first graders didn't silence concerns. According to The New York Times, when parent Nicole Bush yelled a question to Black about privatization of New York's public schools, Black replied, “I’m not going to comment on specific things this morning; it is my first day. And so I’ll get to understand that all of these things are very important and challenging questions, and we will come up with what we believe are the right answers.”

In the meantime, a small group of parents and teachers spent Tuesday calling attention to Black's lack of education know-how by staging a protest at her old stomping grounds, the Hearst Corporation headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. Five of the protesters even applied for Black's former job.

After turning in her application, New York parent Gloria Mattera told reporters, "You will see if you review my resume that I am absolutely unqualified to run a publishing company, which is exactly what Cathie Black is to run the NYC Public School system."

Photo (cc) by Flickr user GothamSchools

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