This week, three-term New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg goggled the imagination when he announced that Cathleen Black would be replacing Joel Klein as chancellor of the New York City public school system. It seemed an odd choice, given the fact that Black is best known for her career in the media as the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, and not for her public sector experience (she has none) or any longstanding interest in public education in general or New York City schools specifically.
The overall strangeness of the pick, however, evaporates once you remember that Bloomberg has a slavish devotion to the cult heroes of corporate management, whom he views as the solution to everything. New York City should probably be relieved that he didn't pick some urban mega-developer to run the school system, actually! (In a nifty pirouette, Klein will be moving on to a position at News Corp., which means that today's top media executives can look forward to a bright future in public education, followed by a bright future as a top media executive.)
You might be wondering of course, how this transition to Black is even supposed to work. The New York Times notes that "hardly anyone knew of Mr. Klein's departure or Ms. Black's arrival until minutes before the official announcement," and that "there is little evidence that anyone else was seriously vetted or considered." All of which suggests a hasty decision. But, Choire Sicha flags this nugget from the same article, that I guess is supposed to give New York City parents some hope:
On Monday, Ms. Black was seen at the Hearst Tower with a thick stack of materials concerning public education. One City Hall insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to risk offending Mayor Bloomberg, said that key City Hall officials had spent hours briefing Ms. Black this week on education issues.
So, it's nice to know that Black is doing some last-minute cramming for the job. For her next trick, she'll probably take in a screening of "Waiting For Superman", as she is surely asking herself, "Wait a minute, does this mean that maybe I am Superman?"
Michael Bloomberg and the myth of corporate genius [Salon War Room]
The Education Of Cathie Black [The Awl]