Cathie Black, We’ll Miss You: A Retrospective


Cathie Black, the former magazine executive turned chancellor of New York City schools, is leaving her position after only about 100 days in office. Say it ain’t so, Cathie! What will we do without your hilarious gaffes? Let’s hope that Mayor Bloomberg’s replacement Dennis M. Walcott, the Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development, has a similar sense of humor (or whatever). As we watch Black walk through that official city door for the last time, we shed a tear and take a special look back at the great moments we shared together. Cathie Black, this is your life — briefly — as the schools chancellor of New York City.

You entered the scene only known to media insiders as the “First Lady of American Magazines” that sent her kids to “boarding school in Connecticut.” You promised to bring more often controversial charter schools to New York City. Controversial! Iconoclastic! We loved you from the get-go!

But we soon quickly realized that you weren’t the right person for the job though and within an hour of your appointment, we gave the three reasons why you shouldn’t be in charge. But maybe, we thought, we should to let you take the reins for a little bit and see how things turned out.

Before you even got confirmed, people were hating on you. Bloomberg came to your defense, but no one was really buying it.

School parents roasted you at a schools hearing with a rap song when they found out you never attended a public school. That week, we came up with the list of reasons why people hated you, including the fact that “Donald Trump Likes You.”

Eventually, you were finally confirmed to the job, albeit only along with “someone who could actually do your job.” Shael Polakow-Suransky became your BFF/co-worker and the Deputy Chancellor for Performance and Accountability.

Remember January 3rd? That was your first day of school! You took a nice little tour of different schools from all five boroughs. You must have been exhausted But you had gaffes to make — many, many gaffes to make.

You answered a question on overcrowding with a bad joke: “Could we just have some birth control for a while? It would really help us.” Then you compared dealing with overcrowding to Sophie’s Choice? Holocaust jokes are never a good look.

At your next public policy meeting, people booed at you and even threw a couple of condoms at you. (That was just cruel.) You got booed by parents the next week too, after deciding to close 22 schools in three days.

After your hell week, you kept a low profile for a while, until a poll this week put your approval rating at 17%. Two days later, John White, the Deputy Chancellor in charge of figuring out new teacher evaluations, left you in the dust to head the schools in New Orleans. Who needs him anyways! Oh yeah, you did.

This morning was the end, about four months later. Now you can go back to working in media — something you actually know a lot of about. After your foray into the school system, how about a national education magazine? The Vogue of schools. We like the sound of that.


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 7, 2011


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