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Public Outrage Over The Appointment of Cathie Black As Chancellor, With a Deputy Also Picked In Secret By Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Rocks NYC
NYC public school community is in an uproar over the secret and shocking appointment of Cathie Black by Mayor Mike Bloomberg as Joel Klein's replacement. A panel of eight of Bloomberg's allies were chosen to decide on a waiver for Ms. Black, and this panel voted NO. Not to be denied anything he wants, Mike Bloomberg allowed a compromise whereby Black would appoint Shael Polakow-Suransky, the school system's chief accountability officer to the newly created job of "senior deputy chancellor and chief academic officer" and serve as deputy to Black. Outrageous, simply unbelievable. Betsy Combier
Always an optimist, I would say that the best thing about the Black appointment is that all the groups of parents and teachers who have been somewhat estranged from each other for the past nine years are now joined together in their disgust for Mayor Bloomberg and his tactics. Finally, the voice of the general public, a voice that Mike Bloomberg is tone deaf to, may be heard, and the Bloomberg/Klein legacy will be seen for what it is: autocratic rule focused on using public money to privatize public education. This is not only a violation of public policy and undemocratic, but the biggest error Bloomberg has made so far. His "my way or the highway" serves no one, and has lost any public support he may have had.

And, UFT President Mike Mulgrew's support for the new team will be his downfall.

Betsy Combier

Deal reached for Cathie Black to serve as NYC education chief
Michael A. Harris, NY Government Examiner

A compromise has been reached to allow Cathleen S. Black to serve as the city's next schools chancellor, has learned.

Black, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's pick to lead the nation's largest public school system has come under intense scrutiny for her lack of education credentials. Under state education law she requires a waiver from Education Commissioner David M. Steiner to get the requisite superintendent's certificate. As recently as Tuesday night it looked like Steiner might not grant the waiver after an advisory panel voted 6 - 2 to deny it.

But now it appears that Bloomberg and Steiner have reached a compromise that will allow Black to serve. In a letter to Steiner dated Friday the mayor wrote that if the waiver is granted immediately upon taking office Black would appoint Shael Polakow-Suransky, the school system's chief accountability officer to the newly created job of "senior deputy chancellor and chief academic officer" and serve as deputy to Black, sources familiar with the agreement said Friday. Steiner had first floated the idea as the panel met behind closed doors earlier this week.

A copy of the letter, obtained by includes a detailed description of both Black and Polakow-Suransky's qualifications, although doesn't make clear exactly how close the two will work. This is Bloomberg's second letter to Steiner requesting the waiver.

The compromises serves as another rebuke to Bloomberg, who has repeatedly stated that Black was more than qualified to serve as chancellor, and who is someone used to getting his way.

According to published reports Steiner will formally grant the waiver on Monday.

As of publication a Bloomberg spokesperson had not returned's E-mail seeking comment for this article.

Assuming the waiver is granted Black will replace outgoing Chancellor Joel I. Klein, who is leaving December 31, making her the city's first female schools chancellor.

Killer Coke Campaign Opposes Cathie Black Appointment

Talk about a bad start. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s appointment of Cathie Black has drawn outrage from all corners of New York City. Teachers are up in arms. Politicians are jumping ship. Parents are furious about not having a voice. And no one wants to be the party that asks for the no education experience waiver. Now, activists targeting the Coca-Cola Corporation are joining in the fray.

The Killer Coke campaign has taken a stand against the appointment of Black. It seems that the “publishing industry” is not the only place Black has been earning a living. She has made millions by acting as a director and top policy maker at Coca Cola since 1993.

During this time, Black and Coke have run aggressive marketing campaigns that target sales to school-age children. "We know high school students will continue to drink Coca-Cola products for 50-60 years...we're trying to gain their business for the future," said a Coca-Cola Youth Market Representative. However, excessive soda consumption is viewed as an important contributing factor to the ongoing childhood obesity epidemic.

Anti-coke campaigners also point to Black’s consistent opposition to human rights reform proposals at the company. They document a long history of the intimidation, torture and assassination of union leaders at Coca-Cola bottling plants in places like Colombia. The Killer Coke campaign recently collaborated with the United Steelworkers Union in an, as yet, unsuccessful court case to bring the company to justice. Similar charges have been filed in relation to workers at Coke plants in Guatemala.

Black has been directly involved in Coke’s operations in China. Here, the company has, once again, employed a child-marketing campaign to carve out market share while facing accusations of labor violations including the use of prison labor. Black voted against multiple resolutions presented at Coca-Cola shareholder meetings that would have recognized these abuses.

Black has attended many other shareholder meetings where resolutions were introduced to address the environmental degradation, labor abuses and the negative social impact of the company. Several of these resolutions asked for the company to pass an international code of conduct for the treatment of workers at all Coca-Cola bottling plants. In each case, Cathie Black remained silent.

Black has publicly stated that she would resign from her position at Coca-Cola if it were deemed a conflict of interest. However, the Killer Coke campaign is joining others in calling for her appointment to be blocked. They described her as having an, “immoral focus on the bottom line at the expense of the lives of children and their families,” that “makes her unqualified for this position.”

After being pressed about her lack of education credentials, Black pledged to “read up” to prepare for her new position. She might start with the story Isidro Segundo Gil, a Colombian trade union leader who was murdered by paramilitaries hired by the local Coca-Cola bottler. When Gil’s wife became involved in the campaign to bring her husband’s murderers to justice, she too was killed. New Yorkers will have to weigh whether they want their school system being run by a person who has made a career out of ignoring these kinds of serious human rights abuses. What message does it send to students?

Billy Wharton is a writer, activist and the editor of the Socialist WebZine. His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, the NYC Indypendent, Spectrezine and the Monthly Review Zine. He can be reached at Become a FAN on Facebook.

State panel rejects Cathie Black as education chief as Bloomberg scrambles
Michael A. Harris, NY Government Examiner

A panel charged with evaluating Cathleen P. Black’s fitness to serve as New York City Schools Chancellor Tuesday evening voted overwhelmingly to deny her a waiver that would allow the magazine executive the right to hold the job.

Six members of the eight-member advisory panel appointed to weigh Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s appointment voted to deny her the waiver following a meeting in Manhattan. Four of the committee members have ties to Bloomberg and Klein. The committee’s vote however is non-binding – by law only Education Commissioner, David M. Steiner can decide whether to grant the waiver, but the vote already appeared to have at least some influence on Steiner.

Steiner said that he would consider a compromise, granting Black, who lacks the requisite education credentials, the waiver, but only “if Bloomberg appointed an educator to help her run the system.” Steiner said he has not ruled denying the waiver entirely, expressing his over Black’s ability to master the intricacies of the nation’s largest school system.

Earlier today Bloomberg continued to defend Black, calling her “an excellent manager” and someone who the city would “be lucky to have in the job.” The mayor insisted that schools chancellor is a “management job” and that the Department of Education’s cabinet and senior staff would help to fill in Black’s deficiencies.

But a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning shows that only 21 percent of public school parents feel Black has the right experience.

“The City Hall spin machine better shift into high gear,” said the poll’s director, Maurice Carroll. “So far, all the negative news stories are murdering Cathleen Black – and not doing Mayor Michael Bloomberg much good, either. New Yorkers neither approve of the Black appointment, nor do they think she has the right experience.”

Bloomberg press secretary Stu Loeser, reached via e-mail Tuesday night, declined to comment on the vote or proposed compromise, but one administration official, speaking on the condition on of anonymity told that Black withdrawing her name from consideration was not out of the question.

“I’m not saying it’s going to happen,” said the official. “But I won’t deny that the idea has been floated. How serious it is, that is yet to be seen”

On November 9 Bloomberg shocked the city – announcing that incumbent Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein will leave at the end of the year to take a job at News Corp, along with the announcement of Black’s appointment.

The past two school chancellors have received a waiver, but unlike Black, they had some education experience.

© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation