There are few bigger critics of Cathie Black than Councilman Charles Barron, who went so far as to get arrested protesting the school closings she presided over during her brief tenure as Chancellor. Yet Barron is not taking any pleasure or claiming victory with her ouster.
We caught up with Barron on the steps of City Hall shortly after Mayor Bloomberg introduced Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott as his new pick to head the school district of 1.1 million students.
How did you find out about Cathie Black stepping down?
My wife called me. She’d heard it on the news.
You didn’t hear anything first in the City Council?
No! He [Mayor Bloomberg] wouldn’t dare do that.
There have been a series of high profile resignations in the past few days. Had you increased pressure over Black since all these Deputy Chancellors departed?
We’d stayed on them. We had never let up the pressure. Those of us in the Freedom Party, and those of us unafraid to stand alone. Some critics criticized her, and the minute she was appointed and they’d beat back the lawsuits, they backed away. We kept the pressure on. The parents, you have to give a lot of credit to the parents, who got arrested. I’ve still got to go back to court over that on the 13th. But I think all that pressure forced Bloomberg to see her as a political liability, with their numbers going down and all of that stuff.
But the sad part is that we wasted three months, where we could have had somebody very credible in there taking care of our children. We wasted so much time. And that’s what really angers me. It’s hard to dance it the street because they got rid of somebody so incompetent. She should have never been there.
Do you think Mr. Walcott is also incompetent?
Dennis? I think they should just open it up to a search. Let him put his credentials in a process with others, and then let a panel that includes some city council members, educators, parents, let them come and determine who is the best chancellor for our children. I’m not one to judge his competency. He certainly may look good on paper. He’s been in the system a long time, but he’s been in a systems that hasn’t been working
I am not here to judge him. I am angry at the Mayor, for putting us through this with Cathie and then doing it again. Dictating who the next one is going to be instead of a going through a process.
If the Mayor does not take your advice, as he probably won’t since he legally doesn’t have to under Mayoral Control, do you plan to continue the same kind of protests?
I think we should continue to call for an open process. This is not about Dennis Walcott, this is about the Mayor. The Mayor not opening up the process. So we’ll continue to call for that. We’ll continue to call on the state to take away mayoral Control from him, because of his poor judgment on education. So, yeah, we’re going to keep fighting.