Thursday, November 11, 2010

NY Times Won't Take Quick Chance

Eschewing Joel Klein hagiography, the NY Times takes a measured look at the school chancellor's reign-and, unlike the tabloids, holds off jumping on the mayor choice to replace the outgoing chancellor: "Mr. Klein’s resignation comes at a challenging time for the city’s school system. With layoffs likely, union negotiations stalled and new state standards on the way, his successor will need to be a quick study. Given all this, David Steiner, the state education commissioner, needs to thoroughly vet Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed successor, the media executive Cathleen Black, to determine if she is up to the job."

What a concept! Actually see if Cathie Black is an appropriate choice-and not simply take the mayor's word-before lauding her as a "fearless straight shooter." And not accuse opponents of the boarding school momma of being in bed with the UFT-as the NY Post does with State Senator-elect Avella: "What a welcome. Not even 24 hours after she was tapped by Mayor Bloomberg to take charge of the city's public-school system, powerhouse publisher Cathie Black came under attack by a newly elected state senator who has enormous union backing. Democratic Sen.-elect Tony Avella -- whose successful bid to oust longtime Queens Republican incumbent Frank Padavan got a big boost from the teachers union -- urged state education officials to deny Black a waiver that would allow her to serve as schools chancellor."

To paraphrase something that we have also said about ourselves: Tony Avella may often be an affront; but he's never been a front for anyone-he goes after what he thinks is right, and damn the torpedoes. But if you're going to accuse him of carrying someone else's water, at least recognize that his less than collegial accuser has been the recipient of quite a bit of Mike Bloomberg's largess.

Avella is not alone in his skepticism about Black's qualifications-as Gotham Gazette points out: "While Mayor Michael Bloomberg essentially has carte blanche in selecting a schools chancellor, the state Department of Education must weigh in by granting — or denying — a waiver to allow a person without education experience (three years of teaching and some graduate work in school administration) to get the job. Cathie Black, of course, falls way short. In the day since Black’s announcement some education activists have launched an effort to try to persuade state education commissioner David Steiner to refuse the waiver."

And GG gives us a shout out as well: "The Neighborhood Retail Alliance blog called for the legislature to hold hearings on Black’s appointment — and the Klein years too while they’re at it — before giving Black the green light. State Assemblymember Marcos Crespo of the Bronx has asked Steiner to “clarify” what he termed “troubling issues,” such as the prerequisites are for being chancellor and what criteria there might be for waiving those requirements."

The idea that this appointee will be successfully challenges, however, is disingenuous-given the mayor's power and the reach of his personal wealth: "Whatever the merits of the arguments, few think the state block Black. ” It is likely that the mayor has already secured consent for Ms. Black’s waiver,” Henry Stern wrote, although he suggested Steiner “spend time talking to Cathie Black and exploring her attitude and rationale for taking the job.”

Gee Henry, can you get just a bit more forthright? We'll give John Tarleton the last word on this orchestrated Punch and Judy show: "Writing in the Indypendent, John Tarleton took a cynical view: ” Most local electeds who have future political aspirations fear Mayor Bloomberg’s wealth, his connections and his influence over the city’s daily press, especially the tabloids. They may squawk about a school closing here and a test score scandal there but mounting a direct challenge to Bloomberg on his signature issue is something they have shown little stomach for to date. ”