NYC Chancellor Cathie Black Out After Three Months

By Christina A. Samuels — April 07, 2011 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Cathleen P. Black, the former publishing executive whom New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg fought to have lead the 1 million-student district, has stepped down.

At a press conference today, Bloomberg announced that Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, who has overseen education issues for his administration, was his selection for a new city schools chancellor to replace Black, who was not at the news conference.

Black has done an “admirable job” during her time as chancellor, Bloomberg said. “I take full responsibility that this has not worked out as either of us hoped or expected.”

[UPDATE (5:01 p.m.): The same day as the announcement about Black, New York state Commissioner of Education David Steiner announced that he also was resigning. Steiner, who served two years in the job, did not give a reason for his departure or a date, only saying that he was leaving “later this year.” Prior to his appointment to the position, Steiner was the dean of the Hunter College-City University of New York school of education.]

Black’s road to the chancellorship was rocky from the beginning, when she was selected in November to succeed Joel I. Klein. Because she does not have any education experience, Bloomberg had to request a waiver from the State Board of Education—a move that set off waves of protests.

Steiner, as commissioner, gave Black the waiver she needed to become chancellor, but on the condition that she hire a chief academic officer. Shael Polakow-Suransky, then a deputy chancellor, stepped into that role.

But Black’s style never seemed to win over her constituents.

At one community meeting, Black jeered back at heckling parents. An NY-1/Marist poll released Monday showed her approval ratings at 17 percent. And four deputy chancellors have left the department since Klein left.

The latest resignation was announced shortly before Bloomberg announced that Black was leaving—John White, the deputy chancellor for talent, labor and innovation, said he was leaving to take a position in Louisiana.

Other resignations include Santiago Tavares, whose departure was announced this week; Eric Nadelstern, who was once considered to be in line for the chancellorship, and Photeine Anagnastopoulos, who oversaw finance and resigned in November.

Walcott has deep ties to the New York City schools. A Queens native, he attended the public school system, as did his children and grandchildren. His early work experience was as a kindergarten teacher, and he went on to create mentoring programs and serve on city social service agencies.

Photos: Top: New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black has a word with Mayor Michael Bloomberg during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy on April 6. (Mark Lennihan/AP). Right: Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott greets students in Brooklyn after it was announced he had been appointed schools chancellor. (Henny Ray Abrams/AP)

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.