Cathie Black Fights Against Education Cuts In Albany

02/16/2011 04:34 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Cathie Black has experienced what may be her first successful public outing as chancellor.

Yesterday the chancellor went to Albany to convince lawmakers not to make drastic cuts to the city's education funds.

From City Room:

It was a test of sorts for Ms. Black, whose qualifications were criticized when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg selected her in November to run the city's school system, the nation's largest. But in nearly two hours in front of the lawmakers, Ms. Black held her own. She made no obvious gaffes and never seemed stumped by any of the topics that lawmakers asked her to address.

According to City Room, "in nearly two hours in front of the lawmakers, Ms. Black held her own," after spending several weeks preparing for the hearing. The Times also made sure to praise her for taking special care to appear diplomatic (unlike previous appearances).

The former Hearst executive had no previous experience in education before being appointed by Mayor Bloomberg.

Black criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget, which calls for a $1.5 billion reduction in education funding.

"This is just unjust," Black said at the hearing.

She also said cuts to capital funding would make it more difficult for schools to decrease class size.

Mayor Bloomberg had previously warned that if the governor's budget were to pass, it would result in 21,000 teachers being laid off. He later backed off that claim.

At the hearing, Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy said that every public school has waste and inefficiencies that should be cut before resorting to teacher layoffs.

Duffy also said teacher pay freezes should be considered.

"Just putting more money into the system does not work," Duffy said.

The Lieutenant governor also offered to send "waste reduction teams" to school districts who could not find ways to cut costs.

In an open letter to New Yorkers, Cuomo echoed Duffy's assertions.

"Right now, we rank number one in the nation in spending per student, and number 34 in student achievement," the letter said. "Worse still, these poor results are coming after a decade of record spending increases in education funding."

Cuomo recommended a range of money saving options for schools, including cutting the pay of school administrators making more than $150,000, freezing teacher pay, and having school district employees make the same health care contributions that state employees make.