Committee on Cities COMMITTEES Codes; Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions; Education; Real Property Taxation

44th Assembly District Kings County

November 15, 2010 David M. Steiner Commissioner of Education State of New York Washington Avenue Albany, NY 12234 Dear Commissioner Steiner: I am writing to urge you to deny the request for a waiver for the appointment of Cathleen P. Black to the position of New York City Public Schools Chancellor. It is of utmost importance that the incoming schools chancellor be a person with a background in education. Whatever other talents Ms. Black possesses, she has no education credentials and has never worked in the public sector. Ms. Black acknowledged having no personal or professional experience with a large public school system or with labor unions. At the press conference announcing her appointment, Ms. Black asked for patience as she gets up to speed. However, New York City public schools face many serious and immediate challenges. Schools must work to transition to the new State testing program; there are currently 47 schools slated for possible closure; New York City teachers have been without a contract for the past year; and the system will continue to have to deal with extremely challenging budget constraints. We need a chancellor who can hit the ground running and who comes well-steeped in an understanding of how education policy is experienced “on the ground” by the principals, teachers, families and most of all the students for whom it is ultimately intended. There might be rare circumstances in which a waiver is appropriate, but the granting of such waivers to what would be three chancellors in a row would demonstrate a disregard for the value of having an educator lead the school system. It is incumbent upon Mayor Bloomberg to identify a chancellor with both the necessary management skills as well as the legally required education background. Sincerely,

James F. Brennan cc: Chancellor Merryl Tisch
Room 842 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12248, 518 455.5377 416 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215, 718 788.7221 1414 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn, NY 11226, 718 940.0641