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Black sits down for questions, and we pose some of our own

For her first sit-down interview today, Cathie Black enjoyed a friendly softball toss with WABC 7’s Art McFarland.

In the first excerpt of the interview to air, Black defended her qualifications as a manager against critics who charge that she lacks the education credentials necessary to do a good job.

“We’re all human beings,” she said. “It is about people. After all, it is about people. They can be little people as young students or teachers or principals or any of the other organizations that surrounds it.”

McFarland then asked if Black expected the public outrage over her appointment.

“First of all, I’m not taking it personally,” she said. “They don’t know me. If they knew me and said this, that’s something different. But they don’t know me. So they’re venting their anger. I have three words: let’s go forward. None of this is going to change the outcome. So let’s go forward, together.”

This clip, the first excerpt of McFarland’s long interview with Black, did not include more details about how Black intends to move the school system forward. McFarland said that other sections will discuss Black’s plans.

GothamSchools has formally requested an interview with Black through the Department of Education. We don’t usually release our interview questions in advance, but we thought in this case we’d make an exception. Add your own questions for her in the comments.

  • What is your theory of change for public education? Do you favor incremental change, as Randi Weingarten has, or do you endorse Michelle Rhee’s idea of radical change? What are the pros and cons of each?
  • Can you be more specific about what you mean by good management? And who are the people that the chancellor is responsible for managing, in your mind?
  • What factors will you consider when you decide whether to close a school?
  • You have said that you are willing to make “hard decisions.” One hard decision will be determining how to distribute looming budget cuts between classroom expenses and the administrative costs of officials at Tweed Courthouse and the rest of the Department of Education bureaucracy. What distribution do you think is appropriate?
  • You have said repeatedly that children should come first, and your predecessor and the mayor frequently argued that children did not come first in the past. Can you give some examples of how adults have come first in education previously and explain how you plan to change those practices?
  • What is your position on teacher evaluation? How should principals decide whehter to give teachers tenure?
  • Are teachers born or made? How much investment do you plan to make in professional development opportunities for teachers?
  • Can you give us examples, from the schools you’ve seen so far or from your own education, of teaching you consider to be good and teaching you consider to be bad?
  • How do you plan to reach out to parents? How do you think parents should best be involved in their children’s education and the school system at large?
  • Have you read the city’s contract with the United Federation of Teachers? Your predecessor and the mayor sometimes disagreed about how to negotiate with the union. Do you favor working together to make compromises with the union or taking a hard line in negotiations?
  • Researchers and reporters have uncovered cases of perverse incentives for accountability. How will you ensure that teachers and principals and school officials don’t succumb to the temptation to cheat or teach to the test?
  • Do you support housing charter schools inside district school buildings? Given space limitations, how will you decide which charter schools are granted access to district space – if any?
  • Do you favor private school vouchers?
  • Do you have any interest in pursuing elected office? Would you rule out a run for New York City mayor?

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