This morning at City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Cathie Black had stepped down as school chancellor. Black, who had no background in education and worked in the publishing industry, spent only three months on the job. Deputy Mayor of Education Dennis Walcott will take over as the new school chancellor.
“Cathie and I had a conversation this morning and we both agreed that the story had become about her and not about the students,” said Bloomberg. “We mutually agreed that it’s in the city’s best interest that she step down. I take full responsibility, but it’s time to look forward and not back.”
While Bloomberg claimed to take responsibility for the Black situation, he wouldn’t admit that appointing her was a mistake. “We have to focus on going forward he said.” Recently, a Quinnipiac University poll showed that Black’s approval rating had fallen to 17 percent.
Walcott was on the same page with Bloomberg in that sense. He referred to himself as “just a guy from Queens” who wants to continue what the mayor has started. “I’m a believer in what we do. I’m a believer in reform. I believe in this mayor,” said Walcott. “We are the greatest city in the world. Our residents expect our school system to be the best in the world.”
Walcott also said that the best chance for the success for the 1.4 million young people in the New York City public education system is to work with his fellow citizens of New York. “It’s our goal together…to work collectively and collaboratively with our parents, community organizations and civic institutions to ensure that our kids get a quality education,” he stated.
Brooklyn City Council Member Jumaane Williams expressed relief that Black’s not longer the head of the Department of Education.
“I am extremely happy that the people’s voice has been heard,” Williams said. “The education of our children is too important to have appointed someone so glaringly mismatched. I am so happy to see that the mayor has stepped in and addressed what the vast majority of New York City residents have been complaining about.”
A couple of Borough Presidents chose to focus their statements on Walcott’s appointment more than Black’s departure.
“I join all of Brooklyn and our borough’s 300,000 public school students and their families in wholeheartedly welcoming Dennis Walcott -a proud son of New York City and product of the public school system, educator and, perhaps most importantly, parent and grandparent – as New York City Schools Chancellor,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “His expertise will help stabilize the system and move it forward.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. took the classy route when speaking about Black, but praised Walcott’s appointment as well.
“During her time as chancellor, Cathie Black and I had a good working relationship and I wish her well,” said Diaz. “I have known Dennis Walcott for years, and I welcome him as chancellor of the Department of Education. Mr. Walcott has always been attentive and accessible, and he understands the issues facing our public schools.”