By Della Hasselle
CITY HALL — A group of angry city council members, parents and members of the Freedom Party gathered on the steps of City Hall Thursday afternoon to protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg's appointment of businesswoman Cathie Black as the new schools chancellor.
"This is insane, this is arrogant, and this is absurd," council member Charles Barron, the founder of the a black and Latino led Freedom Party, said at the protest, calling Bloomberg's "private public search" for the appointee both egotistical and oxymoronic.
"He should have consulted the community.,"
Bloomberg's appointment of Black, a magazine executive who has no previous experience working in education, is unfair to the kids, the parents and educators, protesters said Thursday.
"The problem with Bloomberg is that he's a businessman. He sees education as a product," Assemblywoman Ines Barron added. "He sees it as a business and the parents are his customers."
Muba Yarofulani, 53, parent of public school children Aziza, 17, and Jelani, 12, agreed, adding that Black's appointment sets a poor example for children by telling them that they can be appointed jobs without becoming qualified.
"Our children deserve someone who is competent," Yarofulani said. "We are going to fight this tooth and nail because this is disgusting and this is outrageous."
Many council members feel Black is more unqualified than her predecessor, Joel Klein, a former United States Assistant Attorney General who stepped down as chancellor to take a job at NewsCorp Tuesday, Barron added, a sentiment echoed by State Sen. Tony Avella.
"Waving Klein's lack of credentials was a horrible mistake and look where that got us," Barron said. "They say insanity is when you do the same thing over and over again but expect better results."
After her appointment Tuesday, however, Bloomberg defended Black, saying that her fifteen years of experience as a publisher of of Hearst Magazine qualify her for the government position.
"Cathie Black is a superstar manager who has succeeded spectacularly in the private sector," Bloomberg said in a statement Tuesday. "She is brilliant, she is innovative, she is driven – and there is virtually nobody who knows more about the needs of the 21st century workforce for which we need to prepare our kids."