New Chancellor Named for New York City Schools

As Chancellor Joel Klein steps down after eight years, New York City Mayor appoints Cathie Black, a woman with no educational experience, to the position.

On Tuesday, November 9, 2010, the New York City Department of Education announced that Chancellor Joel Klein was resigning and being replaced by Cathie Black, the first woman to hold the position. Chancellor Klein is credited with turning around the nation’s largest school system over his eight years in office.

Joel Klein served as the Chancellor of New York City Public Schools for eight years, longer than any preceding Chancellor for the district. According to Mayor Bloomberg, Klein orchestrated historic success within the New York City Schools. The Obama administration recognized the district for high graduation rates, lower crime and narrowing the achievement gap.

New Chancellor Lacks Education Experience

Mayor Bloomberg named Cathie Black, previous chairman of Hearst Magazines as the new Chancellor of New York City Schools. Ms. Black is described as innovative and a world class manager. Bloomberg stated that she understands the workforce that teachers are preparing students for better than anyone. Klein stated that Ms. Black will continue to move the work he started forward.

While Ms. Black may be widely recognized for her leadership abilities, teachers are concerned with her lack of experience in education. One teacher explained that the new Chancellor has never taught and has no professional involvement in education.

The Impact of New Chancellor on New Teachers

This change in command will likely not impact new teachers directly at first. School will likely function as it did before with many of the same policies in place. Time will tell what changes Ms. Black will make for the school district, but many are suspect given the fact that her own children attend a boarding school, not the city schools. This would lead one to believe that she does not find the city schools good enough for her children and would indicate that more changes need to happen to help improve the district.

Along with her inexperience with education, Black’s experience with unions is limited as well, which could have repercussions for new teachers who are union members. At the same time, Black has had extensive experience in management, which may lead to productive talks with the union, improving both the educational system and the teacher’s work environment and compensation. Only time will tell.

Many teachers and community members are dissatisfied with Mayor Bloomberg’s choice in Chancellor, but others believe that Ms. Black may yet be able to do a decent job. So long as school districts continue to work on a hierarchy with teachers on the bottom, schools will continue to have room for improvement and leadership roles like school Chancellor will continue to be filled with people like Ms. Black, a highly successful business woman with no educational experience.