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.

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Cathie Black Gives Her First TV Interview

After scrupulously avoiding the media, the Bloomberg's designee for schools chancellor finally submits to a television interview.


WABC-7, New York City's local affiliate scored the first interview with Cathie Black, the former publishing executive that Mayor Bloomberg recently appointed as the new chancellor for New York City schools who is now at the center of a huge debate as to whether she's qualified to run the system. (A father in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope filed a lawsuit on Friday against state educators for granting a waiver to Black to serve as chancellor despite having a background completely lacking in aggression.)

Whereas GothamSchools referred to the conversation as Black having "a friendly softball toss" with education reporter Art McFarland, there were some tough questions asked, especially in the second, more substantive part of the interview (which is embedded above) It does seem like Black knew the questions ahead of time and that the rules for the interview didn't allow for follow-ups. When all was said and done, McFarland characterized Black as "a quick study."

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Bloomberg's Education Pick Gets a Deputy

Cathie Black's lack of education bona fides threatened to sink her candidacy for schools chancellor. A new appointment will likely save the bid.

Apparently Cathie Black's highly touted Shaolin management skills weren't enough to make her New York City's new schools chancellor. The former media executive needed a waiver from the New York State education commissioner in order to take the post that Mayor Michael Bloomberg tapped her for, due to her lack of experience in education.

After initially denying the waiver request, Education Commissioner David Steiner appears ready to grant it now that Black will have a deputy serving in the role of "chief academic officer." The new deputy will be Shael Polakow-Suransky, 38, who has spent his entire career working in the city's schools, rising from a middle school math teacher to a founding principal of a school in the Bronx to an executive in the city's Department of Education. The Gothamist blog likens the co-management arrangement to that between Michael Scott and Jim Halpert on the NBC sitcom The Office.

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