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Where is Cathie Black today? Not in school, but on the phone

Soon-to-be Chancellor Cathie Black is not visiting schools today — not even privately — but she is making phone calls to elected officials.

Black put in a call to Assemblywoman Joan Millman, a former New York City teacher who urged State Education Commissioner David Steiner to deny Black the waiver she needed to become the next schools chancellor.

“Cathie introduced herself and the assemblywoman said, “It’s not personal, no offense, but as a former educator I’d like for there to have been a public search and I think the chancellor should have an education background,'” said Millman’s Chief of Staff Paul Nelson.

“It was a very brief conversation, less than five minutes,” he said.

Millman’s staff is in the process of drafting a bill that would prevent someone like Black, who has years of experience in the publishing business, but none in the education world, from becoming chancellor. It would take away the commissioner’s ability to give a candidates a waiver if they don’t have the education credentials required in state law.

Millman’s bill may run into opposition from Assemblywoman Cathie Nolan, who is chairwoman of the Assembly’s education committee. Yesterday, Nolan toured two schools in Queens with Black and gave her performance a positive review. Nolan told the New York Times:

“She certainly has a lot of issues to get up to speed on, but so did Joel Klein and so did Harold Levy,” Ms. Nolan added, referring to the last two chancellors. “It’s really the quality of the person and how they go forward. We’ll have to see.”

Black got her waiver early this week after city officials promised that she would appoint a chief academic officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky, to oversee teaching and learning.

“As the assemblywoman said, to be the attorney general, you have to have a law degree,” Nelson said. “You can’t get a waiver for that, so why can you get a waiver to be schools chancellor?”

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