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Public Advocate Wants Cathie Black to Hold Open Meeting With Parents, Administrators

By DNAinfo Staff on November 15, 2010 8:05pm

Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduces his choice for new Schools Chancellor, Cathie Black.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduces his choice for new Schools Chancellor, Cathie Black.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

CITY HALL — Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is calling on Mayor Bloomberg to hold a public forum for his new schools chancellor to allay mounting concerns over her qualifications.

De Blasio, who has butted heads with Bloomberg in the past, sent a letter to City Hall Monday urging the mayor to arrange an open meeting between Cathie Black and education stakeholders, including parents, students, teachers and administrators.

Black, a highly successful magazine executive, has no previous experience working in education, prompting serious objections to her selection as Joel Klein's successor.

But de Blasio said that he believes the forum could help to mitigate the "significant controversy" surrounding the appointment.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
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Getty Images/Jemal Countess

"Ms. Black is a highly successful manager in the field of media, but her views on education and her plans for the nation's largest school system are largely unknown," he wrote.

"Such a forum would allow these stakeholders and all New Yorkers to better understand how Ms. Black plans to address the critical issues facing our schools."

The Mayor's Office did not return a call for comment concerning de Blasio's request.

The move puts de Blasio on a growing list of local leaders who have questioned Black's appointment.

On Friday, Upper Manhattan Councilman Robert Jackson, the chair of the City Council Education Committee, sent a letter to New York State Education Department Commissioner David Steiner urging him not to certify Black for the job.

Because Black lacks the required education-related credentials, Steiner must grant her a waiver in order to serve as schools chancellor.

State Senator-elect Tony Avella sent the same message to Steiner last week, and a similar letter from a group of concerned citizens had garnered more than 8,000 online signatures as of 7:30 pm Monday.

State Education Department spokesman Tom Dunn said the Department had not received a waiver request as of Monday evening.

Bloomberg defended his choice once again on Monday afternoon, calling Black "imminently qualified"  to run the wielding organization.

He said that when he started as mayor, he didn't know what the Sanitation Department did, but that didn't stop him.

"I think Cathie is the kind of woman who knows how to get people to work together," he said.