Dennis Walcott Now Targeted By Same Gadflies Who Went after Cathie Black

The Deny Waiver Coalition, which originally formed to oppose granting a waiver to Cathie Black, has a new target in mind: Dennis Walcott.

"One week after the departure of an unqualified schools Chancellor, a new Chancellor has again been crowned without an appropriate process," the coalition writes in an e-mail. "The Deny Waiver Coalition has never wavered in its demand that an appropriate individual serve as Chancellor -- an individual whose experience in education substantially exceeds the minimum criteria for the position."

The group is made up of the usual suspects who have opposed the Department of Education, Mayor Bloomberg and former Chancellor Joel Klein over the past eight years. When they opposed Black, we wrote off their efforts as more of the same from the normal gadflies, and thought they'd go nowhere.

Oops.

They gathered about 11,000 signatures asking Education Commissioner David Steiner to deny Black a waiver, and though Bloomberg still got her in, she lasted less than 100 days.

And now they're turning to Walcott.

Of course, the game is already seems over. Steiner granted Walcott his waiver yesterday, after a process that was immediately smoother than Black's.

Remember, a panel (of Bloomberg appointees, no less) recommended that Steiner not grant a waiver to Black, whereas a panel unanimously recommended Walcott for the post. Black had never been to a public school as a student, may not have ever even been in a public school building before becoming the head of the largest American school district, and surely will never enter one again. Walcott, on the other hand, visited his own New York City alma mater yesterday just days after dropping his own grandson off at the Queens public school he attends. In every way Black came off as Marie Antoinette mocking the peasants, Walcott seems the consummate insider, the product of public education done good.

So despite the Deny Waiver Coalition's accurate assertion that nothing has changed in the way Bloomberg picked Black or Walcott, we predict the latter won't be stopped by their challenges.

Then again, we didn't think Black's tenure would only last as long as Foster Kamer's at Esquire.

sthrasher@villagevoice.com / @steven_thrasher


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