Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Video and Stories on Press Conference at Steiner Residence Opposing Black Waiver

On November 22, 2010, a group of parent leaders and activists in NYC delivered over 12,000 signatures to David Steiner's residence protesting the appointment of Cathie Black as Chancellor. Steiner convened a panel to make the judgement, a panel tainted by ties to Bloomberg.

There was lots of coverage with all the press corps showing up. I covered the press conference and have 2 videos. Here is the 5 minute edited version.

And a full 15 minute version at vimeo: http://vimeo.com/17116652
Looks Like Bill DeBlasio's Spine Is Missing Too


Pretty sad when a Fox News morning show host is more tenacious about querying a charter school spokesperson than our Public Advocate.

Impartiality of Panel Screening Cathie Black Called into Question


The Coalition for Public Education (CPE/CEP) (Brooklyn Chapter) will sponsor a press conference on the steps of the NYC Department of Education. 

Where:  Tweed Building, 52 Chambers St. in Manhattan

When:  Tuesday, November 23, at 4:00 pm

This gathering is to protest and denounce the fake panel set up by the NYS Education Department Commissioner, David Steiner to approve of the waiver.  This waiver would allow Mike Bloomberg to appoint Cathy Black as Chancellor.  Ms. Cathy Black is NOT QUALIFIED to be our Chancellor.

Every one’s support is welcome, for more information; contact Rodney Deas  (718-237-1928)


1. Here are some photos and news links to our press conference yesterday, when we delivered petitions with about 13,000 signatures and lots of thoughtful comments to Commissioner Steiner's building on the Upper East Side:

State Didn't Vet Advisers on Chancellor Pick for Conflicts (NY Times), Parents Express Opposition To Schools Chancellor Selection (NY1), Impartiality of Panel Screening Cathie Black... (DNA info). 

Many of these articles as well as some of the participants in yesterday's press conference pointed out the close links between members of the waiver advisory panel and Mayor Bloomberg .

For more news and video of the press conference, check out the NYC Kids PAC website at www.denywaiver.com ; the website also has links to both online petitions, which you are welcome to sign if you have not already.
2. There are also numerous articles today about a Quinnipiac poll showing that 60% of public school parents and a majority of New Yorkers do not think Cathie Black should be appointed Chancellor.  Here's one: More than 60% of NYC parents with children in public schools disapprove of Cathie Black (Daily News) ... 
3.  I received a nice note from Commissioner Steiner this morning, acknowledging his receipt of our petitions.  The email is below.
thanks for your support, Leonie
Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters

Gotham Links:
  • No one screened the members of David Steiner’s Black advisory panel for conflicts of interest. (Times)
  • Technically, conflicts are acceptable because the panel is only advisory. (WNYC)
  • Opponents of Cathie Black’s appointment delivered a 12,000-signature petition to David Steiner. (NY1)
  • Some teachers union members supported the petition, which was started independently. (Post)
  • City Council Speaker Christine Quinn came out in support of Black. (Post)
  • Black’s college coursework was released, but not her grades. (GothamSchools, Daily News)
  • Joel Klein’s new company, News Corp., bought a prominent ed-tech company. (GothamSchoolsPost)
  • Checker Finn says it’s silly for the state to require any certification at all for chancellors. (Post)
    • Cathie Black has been a hard sell because almost no one saw her coming. (City Hall News)
    • Louise Mirrer, a member of the panel voting on Black’s appointment, has deep ties to Bloomberg. (NYT)
    • Those ties are too deep for State Senator Eric Adams, who wants Mirrer off the panel. (NYT)
    • The panel that approved Klein’s waiver was larger and broader than the current one. (WNYC)

State Didn’t Vet Advisers on Chancellor Pick for Conflicts

Published: November 22, 2010
As new revelations surfaced about extensive ties between Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and members of the panel evaluating his choice for school’s chancellor, state officials acknowledged on Monday that they did not screen the panel members for conflicts of interest or connections to the Bloomberg administration before appointing them.
Andrew Burton for The New York Times
David Dobosz, a parent of a New York City public school student, signed a petition Monday opposing a waiver for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's choice to be schools chancellor.
The panel has been asked to consider whether Mr. Bloomberg’s selection, Cathleen P. Black, a publishing executive, should be exempted from a state law that requires experience in the education field. The New York Times reported last week that three of the eight panelists previously worked inside the city’s Education Department during Mr. Bloomberg’s tenure.
But a fourth, Louise Mirrer, the head of the New-York Historical Society, has lobbied Mr. Bloomberg’s office on behalf of the museum, and is chairwoman of an academy for which the mayor has helped raise millions of dollars. He has personally donated $475,000 to the historical society, and he honored Dr. Mirrer with an award two years ago at Gracie Mansion.
And a fifth panelist, the chairwoman, Susan H. Fuhrman, runs Teachers College at Columbia University, which received about $60 million in contracts from the Bloomberg administration over the past five years.
Asked whether the state education commissioner, David M. Steiner, had screened the panelists for conflicts, his spokesman, Tom Dunn, indicated that no formal review was conducted.
“He asked each member if they felt they could be independent and offer critical confidential advice as to Ms. Black’s qualifications,” Mr. Dunn said.
In an interview, Dr. Mirrer dismissed the idea that her connections with Mr. Bloomberg posed a conflict or should have been disclosed. “If I had something I thought I should disclose, I would have disclosed it,” she said.
Before working at the historical society, Dr. Mirrer was vice chancellor for academic affairs at the City University of New York.
Three city and state lawmakers on Monday called on Dr. Mirrer to step down from the panel, which will advise Dr. Steiner on whether to grant Ms. Black the waiver.
The panel will hold its first meeting on Tuesday and could make its recommendation as soon as the afternoon.
Senator Eric Adams, who represents Brooklyn and has been a frequent critic of Mr. Bloomberg, said Dr. Mirrer “should not sit on the panel.” Mr. Adams added that the mayor had “great influence on her vote.”
Mr. Dunn played down the issue, saying Dr. Steiner had sought Dr. Mirrer’s involvement because of her perspective overseeing an important cultural institution and “was aware, as are most New Yorkers, that like the vast majority of cultural institutions in New York City, the New-York Historical Society benefits from the mayor’s philanthropy.”
Dr. Fuhrman could not be immediately reached.
The commissioner is trying to contain the fallout as parents and elected officials question the process by which the mayor has sought to install Ms. Black, saying it is secretive and is unlikely to lead to any result other than a rubber-stamping of the mayor’s wishes.
As scrutiny has intensified, Dr. Steiner’s aides have instructed the panelists not to speak with members of the news media.
On Monday afternoon, about a dozen protesters gathered in front of Dr. Steiner’s home on East 87th Street to deliver a petition opposing a waiver for Ms. Black that they said had been signed by about 13,000 New Yorkers.
Around 4:30 p.m., they handed the petition to Dr. Steiner’s doorman, who told them that they were trespassing.
The parents and activists complained that the panel’s role had been reduced to pantomime.
“I wish Steiner had picked more people outside Bloomberg’s circle of influence,” said Leonie Haimson, 55, of Greenwich Village, who runs a group that advocates for smaller classes and whose seventh-grade son attends public school in Manhattan.
The resentment over Ms. Black’s selection seems especially acute in minority neighborhoods. While Mr. Bloomberg has praised Ms. Black’s management savvy and corporate experience, some residents say her appointment reinforces the distance between the people who receive city services and those from the mayor’s orbit tapped to oversee those services.
“There was quite a reaction in the district,” said Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo, who represents the Bronx. “Parents are upset, PTA leaders, they were shocked that somebody without experience in education could be appointed.”
It is not clear how soon Dr. Steiner will make his decision. Mr. Dunn emphasized that whatever the makeup of the board, its role was merely advisory. Others said that finding people in New York City who were qualified to serve on the panel and were completely disconnected from the mayor was close to impossible.
“Mayor Bloomberg, to his credit, has been so present in the cultural institutions and in the higher-education institutions that you’d have to go to Timbuktu to find someone not connected to him,” said Merryl H. Tisch, chancellor of the State Board of Regents.
But Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, suggested that there was a way around that: Dr. Steiner could have appointed more experts from outside the city, beyond the reach of Mr. Bloomberg’s money and muscle.
“There are real questions about whether this is an objective process,” Ms. Lerner said, “or whether it has been compromised by the selection process.”
“Is it legitimate to say, is this tilted, is there a thumb on the scale — not a super heavy one, but a thumb on the scale?” Ms. Lerner asked.
She then answered her own question: “Yes.”


Over 50% of the general public doesn't want Ms. Black, and over 62% of public school parents don't want her. Commissioner Steiner, are you listening?

What's truly remarkable in all this is how cavalierly it's all been treated by Bloomberg and Black. Suppose Ms. Black had been offered the Chairman or CEO position at another publisher, say for example, a book publisher, or even something related like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. What would likely have been her response? Well, after an initial discussion, she would have started doing research about the offering company -- their financials, their revenue history and trends, their markets, their current middle and upper-middle management strength, their penetration of various markets, the extent of their internationalization, the degree to which they were employing new technology or entering new, Internet-based markets, etc., etc., etc. She would have researched and analyzed and perhaps even done a couple of site visits, met with Board members, and taken her time to form her judgment about the merits of the offering company and the goodness of fit for herself personally. The decision would have taken at least a couple of weeks, perhaps longer.

When it came to the education of 1.1 million children, however, by her own account, she let her stomach flip-flop over a breakfast meeting with the Mayor, smiled sweetly, and said, "Sure!"

THAT -- the hideous audacity, the hubris, the utterly cavalier, "What, me worry?" attitude, -- as much as anything else, is why public school parents are angry. Not to mention the lack of qualifications, the trotting out of irrelevant support from folks like Oprah (is Ms. Black supposed to be another one of Oprah's giveaways that make her audiences swoon?), the secretiveness, the Mayor's lame rationalizations followed inevitably by the usual accusations that the public are idiots who don't understand the nature of the job, the stacking of Steiner's review panel with Bloomberg-connected members, etc., etc., etc. 

Steve Koss


Poll: Bloomberg In The Red With Black

Today’s Q poll finds NYC voters are generally not supportive of Cathie Black, Mayor Bloomberg’s pick to succeed Joel Klein as schools chancellor.
Most residents (64 – 26) say education experience matters more than management experience when it comes to overseeing the city’s vast network of public schools.
Fifty-one percent don’t believe Black, a magazine publishing executive, has the right kind of background for the job, while 26 percent think she’s well qualified and 23 percent are undecided.
NYC voters disapprove of Bloomberg’s selection of Black by a 47-29 percent margin, with 25 percent undecided. Voters with children in public schools disapprove of the appointment 62-25 percent and say 63-21 percent that Black does not have the right experience.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s own approval rating has taken a hit, dropping to 55-35 – his lowest score since a 55-36 percent Q poll rating June 22, 2005. Poll respondents disapprove 48-41 with the way the mayor is handling the public schools.
“The City Hall spin machine better shift into high gear,” said Q pollster Mickey Carroll. “So far, all the negative news stories are murdering Cathleen Black – and not doing Mayor Michael Bloomberg much good, either.”
Generally speaking, NYC voters aren’t buying all the “Bloomberg 2012″ hype. Sixty-one percent say Bloomberg would not make a good president, while 65 percent believe all the White House talk is nothing but “political gossip” and not a “serious political movement.”

Critics of the mayor's pick for schools chancellor say a panel set to vet her appointment has too many City Hall ties.

Lots more photos of the press conference at

Poll: Half don't want Black


Last Updated: 6:59 AM, November 23, 2010

Posted: 6:59 AM, November 23, 2010

More than half of city voters don’t think Cathie Black, Mayor Bloomberg’s pick to be the next schools chancellor, has the right kind of experience for the job, according to a poll released today.

The survey from Quinnipiac University found that 51 percent of respondants don’t think Black, with her past gigs running Hearst Magazines and serving on numerous corporate boards, is up to managing the city Department of Education.

Twenty-six percent think she is qualified and 23 percent are undecided, according to the poll.

The numbers are even worse for people with children in public schools.

Sixty-two percent in that category disapprove of Bloomberg appointing Black and 63 percent said she does not have the right kind of experience.

"The only positive sign for her is that about one quarter of voters don’t know enough to say whether they approve or disapprove of her appointment," said Maurice Carroll, the director of Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"There’s some room for the spinners to make Bloomberg’s case."

The poll had more bad news for Hizzoner — his approval numbers are the lowest they’ve been since his first term.

Only 55 percent of voters approve of the job Bloomberg is doing, his lowest tally since June 200

Campaign to Stop Killer Coke News Release November 23, 2010

Open Letter to Commissioner of Education David Steiner Opposing
Appointment of Cathleen Black as Chancellor of NYC Public Schools
For immediate release: November 23, 2010
For further information, contact:
Ray Rogers or Pat Clark, (718) 852-2808

Mr. David Steiner
New York State Commissioner of Education
89 Washington Ave.
Albany, NY 12234
Dear Mr. Steiner:
We hope that the fix is not in for Cathleen Black to get the waiver from New York State allowing her appointment as Chancellor of the New York City public school system as suggested by The New York Times's article on Saturday, November 20, 2010: "Panel on Pick for Schools Has Close Ties to Bloomberg."
There are two clear reasons why Ms. Black should not be chosen to be chancellor of the New York City public school system. First, she has NO educational experience to run public schools and, second, her role as a top policymaker for The Coca-Cola Co. which over the past 17 years has operated like a criminal syndicate with impunity. Her leadership role at Coca-Cola shows that she lacks the integrity and compassion to serve as Chancellor or a role model for young people.
Unfortunately, the November 22 article in the Daily News indicates that her appointment has been opposed because she is a woman. Celeste Katz wrote: "What she [Gloria Steinem] and others are worried about is how Black is being borderline mocked -- and whether it's because she's a woman."
The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke has opposed Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's run for governor, Sam Nunn's run for vice president of the U.S., Peter Ueberroth when he ran for governor of California and Cathleen Black's appointment for Chancellor because as Coca-Cola executives and board members, they are responsible for the widespread labor, human rights, health and environmental abuses perpetrated by this company worldwide. We believe that there are many women educators well-qualified for this position who would serve as a positive role model for young people.
We have seen Big Business taking over our political system with lobbyists and huge financial contributions. Now we are watching Big Business trying to take control over the largest system of public schools in the United States serving more than one million students.
The Partnership for New York City sent you a letter on November 17, 2010 applauding Cathleen Black's "skills, experience and leadership ability..."
Signing this letter are many Big Business leaders representing corporations involved in gross mismanagement, unbridled greed and corruption, such as Jeff Kindler, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer; Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, and Jennifer Scully-Learner, VP of Goldman Sachs; Thomas Russo, Executive VP and General Council of American International Group; Raymond McDaniel, Jr.; Chairman and CEO of Moody's Investors, and Stan O'Neal, former Chairman & CEO of Merrill Lynch, among others.
Also signing the letter are several Coca-Cola executives and board members, including Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola, and Coca-Cola board members Donald Keough, Chairman of Allen & Co. and former president of Coca-Cola, and James Robinson III, Co-founder and General Partner of RR Ventures, and businesses with financial ties to Coca-Cola, including Stanley Shuman, Managing Director, Allen & Co., and Carla Hendra of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide.
As chancellor, Ms. Black's job would be to educate and protect the more than one million students in the school system. If you go to http://www.killercoke.org, you will find all the documentation you should need to prove that the policies Ms. Black helped set for The Coca-Cola Company make her unfit to serve as a role model and to protect children. Cathleen Black and the company have profited greatly by aggressively marketing to children nutritionally worthless and damaging beverages that help fuel the obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes epidemics. Coke also benefits from hazardous child labor in the sugar cane fields of El Salvador as documented by Human Rights Watch and others.
This appointment should not be about money and politics and what Big Business wants, but what is best for the children of New York City's School System. The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, all parents and teachers demand that State and City political leaders do what's right for the City's children.
Ray Rogers
Corporate Campaign, Inc./Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
# # #
The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke was created to end the widespread labor, human rights, health and environmental abuses perpetrated by the Coca-Cola company worldwide.

"If we lose this fight against Coke,
First we will lose our union,
Next we will lose our jobs,
And then we will all lose our lives!"
--Sinaltrainal Vice-President Juan Carlos Galvis--


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