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Cathie Black Under Attack From State Senator

By Nicole Bode | November 11, 2010 8:35am

By Nicole Bode

DNAinfo Senior Editor

MANHATTAN — Incoming city Schools Chancellor Cathie Black is slated to replace Joel Klein at the end of the year, but one politician is reportedly trying to stop her from taking over the reins.

State Senator-elect Tony Avella penned a letter to state Education Commissioner David Steiner urging him to refuse to grant Black the waiver she needs to take office in light of her lack of education credentials, according to the letter posted online by the Daily News.

"While I'm sure that Ms. Black is a very well qualified executive in the magazine industry, the top executive in the New York City School system should be an educator," Avella wrote.

Under state law, the New York City schools chancellor has to be certified as a superintendent or obtain a waiver from the state. Outgoing Schools Chancellor Joel Klein got his waiver before taking office eight years ago, according to reports.

Avella’s concern has been echoed by other parents and school advocates, who have complained that Bloomberg’s selections for the school boss spot have revealed a preference for businessmen and women rather than those with a background in education policy.

Bloomberg himself has said there are enough policy ideologues in the city’s Education Department already, and that he sought out chancellors who could handle the organizational and economic aspects of the massive department.

The Post asked Avella if his letter was motivated by the support he got from the teachers’ union during his run for office. Avella denied it, and the United Federation of Teachers told the Post they had not been consulted on the letter.