Aside from Ms. Black’s background, Mr. Bloomberg’s selection of her was also surprising for the secrecy surrounding it. Many of the mayor’s senior aides did not know about it until just before he announced it.
The mayor’s office has declined to reveal any details of the search process, but one respected educator has said he was consulted: Geoffrey Canada, the chief executive officer of the Harlem Children’s Zone.
Mr. Canada, in an interview on Friday, said Mr. Bloomberg had met with him about three months ago, around the time Mr. Klein told the mayor he was planning to resign.
Mr. Bloomberg “asked for my advice on what would make a great chancellor, and I gave it,” Mr. Canada said. He would not elaborate on what his advice was and did not say whether Ms. Black’s name came up. But he said he was “thrilled” with the choice, citing her extensive management experience.
Mr. Canada declined to comment on whether he was offered the job. Mr. Bloomberg had called him the “most important living New Yorker” in a recent New York Magazine survey.
Is Canada just covering for Bloomberg or is he telling the truth?
With Geoffrey, it's to tell.
He has such a desperate pathological need for publicity that you never know if he's inserting himself into the conversation just to see his name in the papers or if he really was consulted by Bloomberg.
But let's say we take Canada at his word and believe that he was consulted by Bloomberg about the job.
Why won't he say what he told Bloomberg?
Did he give Bloomberg some candid talk that he doesn't want revealed to the general public (e.g., "Mike, you need to get rid of Klein because people hate him, but you need to replace him with as big a union-busting, school-closing corporate whore as Klein is, just with a nicer public persona...")?
Did Bloomberg offer him the job? And if so, why didn't he take it? And why won't he say whether he was offered the job?
It's all very mysterious and the Times makes clear in another article that other cities make their chancellor searches much more public and much less mysterious and it all works out for the better:
experts who have studied other chancellor searches, and some superintendents in other cities who have been through them, said that while the mayor made some valid points, a more public process, especially in the final stages, brought transparency and accountability to the school system that could give credibility to a new leader.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to see how the candidates size up in their performance in the public limelight,” said Thomas Payzant, a professor at the graduate school of education at Harvard who was superintendent of the Boston schools from 1995 until 2006.
“You get to see a side of them that you might not otherwise see,” he said. “And it’s a two-way learning experience. You’re learning a lot about the leaders in the community and what the issues are in that day and a half, and getting a lot broader view than if you just read a lot of things on paper.”
Mr. Payzant himself went through a trial by fire before being appointed superintendent. As one of three finalists for the Boston job in 1995, he was asked to spend a day and a half meeting with parents, teachers, union leaders and community members, to participate in a public forum and even to write an editorial for The Boston Globe addressing school issues. At the time, he was an assistant secretary in the federal Education Department.
Gee - can you imagine Bloomberg asking potential chancellor candidates to spend a day and a half meeting with parents, teachers, union leaders and community members, participating in a public forum on education, and writing an editorial for the papers addressing school issues before he decided which candidate got the job?
Hell, he doesn't even want actual chancellors with the actual job to do any of that.
Which is why he and Joel "Sorry, I'm on my Blackberry" Klein were so perfect for each other these past eight years.
So after nearly a week of trying to learn more about how Bloomberg conducted his chancellor search and why he chose the person he did for the job, we don't know much more than we did at the beginning.
All we know is that the search was Bloombergian to its core - secretive, dismissive of the community, and conducted with the usual corporate bias that educators are idiots but business people are geniuses.
I'm sure it will all work out great - for Bloomberg.
UPDATE: The Daily News reports that Bloomberg never reached out to NYSED commissioner David Steiner about the pick. The News also reports that the state ed department says the city has not submitted an official waiver request for non-educator Cathie Black to take the job of the top city education official, as is needed by law.
Goeffrey Canada gets consulted by Bloomberg on the choice (or at least he says he does), the state education commissioner doesn't.
Really puts a spotlight on Bloomberg's education values, doesn't it?
And of course he figures he can just buy shill Steiner off without a problem.