Mamie Till Mobley

"There was an important mission for me, to shape so many...young minds as a teacher. God took away one child but...(gave) me thousands. And I have been grateful for the blessing." Mamie Till Mobley

Monday, November 15, 2010

Open Letter to Commissioner David M. Steiner: Re: Appointment of Cathie Black, Chancellor NYC Schools

November 15, 2010

Dr. David M. Steiner
Commissioner of Education
New York State Education Depart.                                    
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12234

Re: Appointment of Cathleen Black, NYC Schools Chancellor

Dear Dr. Steiner:

This letter is in response to the appointment of Cathleen P. Black, Chairperson of  Hearst Magazines, as NYC Schools Chancellor. Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed her on Tuesday, November 9, 2010.

The voices of dissent on the appointment have increased daily, as well as,  the members of the State Legislature's black, Latino, and Asian caucus, parents,  including the likelihood of legal action on how Mayor Bloomberg appointed her, and State Senator-elect Tony Avella the 11th Senate District sent a letter to your attention on November 10th, urging you to deny the waiver Mrs. Black needs to become the chancellor.

Mrs. Black has a superb business background in  the publication of magazines and newspapers around the world, holding high level positions in this field from the President of USA Today to the Newspapers Association of America to her present post as the Chairperson of Hearst Magazines.

She recently joined the advisory board of the Harlem Village Academies in July, though, she never attended a board meeting before her appointment. She has few experiences in public education, while her life-style and socio-economic background is far removed from the children and the staff she is suppose to lead.

With no formal  preparation in the field of education, credits or professional experiences in public education, I wonder how is it she is suppose to lead the New York City School District as a chancellor or a staff of twelve deputies all licensed school district administrators?

The  position of a chancellor  is not an on-the-job-training one as Mrs. Black commented in the media she'll have twelve deputies to train her. This is insulting to the staff, the children and the people of New York City, and makes a mockery of the position of NYC Schools Chancellor.

The student population of 1.1 million students in the NYC schools includes nearly half  from Latino homes a large percentage of Puerto Rican children many of them in schools failing to achieve adequate yearly progress some with graduation rates as low as 25%. And  although there has been some progress in the schools as a whole this too has been recently mitigated by the introduction of the new State Education Department  testing and standards.

Mrs. Black admitted she has no prior experience working with unions, a background essential for anyone taking on the role of NYC Schools Chancellor. Overall, her appointment is a troubling one, the way in which Mayor Bloomberg appointed her questionable, the idea he picks from his own personal address book from "A to Z" as he himself admits is absurd.

 The whole process is not a transparent one, there is no involvement from the schools, stakeholders or the community nor a diverse pool of candidates allowed to apply for the position as there was no public announcement of the vacancy. 

The children, staff and community in the New York City Schools deserve the most highly qualified leader to head the schools someone with formal credentials, experience and a professional background in the field of education. Cathleen Black does not meet the criteria established in New York State law requirements not even minimally.

Therefore as Commissioner of Education for the State of New York Education Department on behalf of the Latino community and those in the field of education with a similar perspective ( over 9000 signed an on-petition and the numbers increasing daily on-line) we urge you to up-hold the State education requirements in the law for the appointment of chancellors deny granting this waiver to Mrs. Cathleen Black to become NYC Schools Chancellor.

Maria Rosa, SDA

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Whitney Tilson (3rd background)
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