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Majority Of Advisory Panel Recommends Denying Waiver For Schools Chancellor Pick

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TWC News: Majority Of Advisory Panel Recommends Denying Waiver For Schools Chancellor Pick
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At least half of an advisory panel recommended Tuesday the state education department deny a waiver to Cathie Black, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's pick for schools chancellor.

After meeting behind closed doors, two members voted in favor of granting the waiver, four voted against, and two voted "not at this time."

Those who voted "not at this time" indicated they would likely reconsider recommending the waiver if the application were to be resubmitted with new conditions -- for instance, if Black were to be joined a co-chancellor with educational experience.

The ultimate decision lies with State Education Commissioner David Steiner, who confirms to NY1 that he had told the panel before it deliberated that his first choice was to make the city reapply for Black's waiver with a different structure, like the inclusion of a chief academic officer.

Some experts are already saying two school chiefs would be problematic.

"The co-Chancellor proposition has no support in law. It's a contortion," said College of Staten Island Department of Education Chair David Bloomfield.

It is not clear when Steiner will make his final decision.

In a statement, he said, "I want to thank all of the members for the advisory panel for the seriousness of purpose which they brought to their evaluation of Ms. Black’s qualifications for a school district leader’s certificate. I will weigh their advice and insight as I consider the decision before me."

The waiver is required by law for Black to become chancellor, since the publishing executive does not have the traditional education certification.

There had been some concerns expressed about whether those on the panel were too close to the Bloomberg administration.

On Monday, a group of parents hand-delivered a petition with more than 12,000 signatures to Steiner, urging him not to grant Black the waiver.

"Clearly the panelists heard the voices of parents, educators and community members around the city and agreed with us that she wasn't qualified to become the head of the nation's largest school system," said Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters.

Earlier in the day, Mayor Bloomberg argued it doesn't matter that Black has no education experience, since she's a strong leader.

"It's not so simple to say there is one test and you should come from only one background. And if you remember, Joel [Klein] didn't come from a background where people thought he'd be a great educator," said the mayor.

Meanwhile, Black's college transcript from Trinity College has been released, and it shows that while she majored in English and took courses in Italian and theology, she did not take any courses in education.

In the transcript released publicly, the grades and grade point average have been blacked out. The state cited privacy reasons for doing so.

Also, a new poll released Tuesday finds a majority of New Yorkers do not believe Black has the right experience to be schools chancellor.

The Quinnipiac University poll found 64 percent of those surveyed think a schools chancellor needs education experience more than management experience. Only 26 percent said that managerial experience carries more weight.

The poll also found Bloomberg's approval rating has hit a five-year low, with just 55 percent of those polled approve of the job he is doing.

About 1,300 registered voters were surveyed for the poll from November 16-21, and the survey has a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points.

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