Two days after Cathie Black received the waiver to take over the city's public schools, the Department of Education continues to keep both her and her schedule under wraps. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
Where did Cathie Black spend her Wednesday? It was only late in the afternoon that NY1 found out as the Department of Education told the station she had visited two elementary schools in Queens.
The DOE has been making sure reporters have limited access to Black. When the DOE was asked why her schedule is such a secret, a spokeswoman said:
"Part of being chancellor is visiting schools and talking with principals, teachers and parents openly and candidly about what is happening in their school community. Having TV cameras and reporters over your shoulder is often not conducive to such an open exchange. So there will be public visits and private visits."
In the past, most new chancellors have been very public with their schedules, giving some insight into their preparation and priorities and allowing reporters to ask questions at each site. And with Black, the question of which schools she visits and who she meets with has taken on particular significance, since she's had such limited exposure to public schools in the past.
On Tuesday, it was announced ahead of time when she went to a school in the Bronx, but reporters and camera crews were not allowed to go in with her. Instead, the mayor's office put out three pictures taken by a City Hall photographer, showing her reading to first-graders. After her visit, she told reporters she wanted to be open, available and in the schools.
"We’ll keep moving around the boroughs and we’ll move from lower school to middle school to high school and it’s going to take a bit of time but that’s where I want to be," Black said.
On Wednesday, education reporters at several city news organizations, including NY1, asked Black to make her schedule public in a letter which reads:
"Our position is that Ms. Black's school visits are a matter of public record. We believe that having honest conversations with parents and teachers, and publicly sharing where the new chancellor is visiting or who she is speaking with before those conversations take place, are not mutually exclusive."