Thank God she's gone!
As newly named Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott hit the pulpit Sunday as part of his ongoing campaign to repair the damage caused by his predecessor, Cathie Black, a Brooklyn pastor said a hallelujah for her absence.
"Now tell the truth: How many of you thank God that Cathie Black is gone?" said Reverend Mark Taylor as he introduced Walcott to his congregants at Brooklyn's Church of the Open Door Sunday.
His parishioners responded with cheers of "yes!" and "Hallelujah!"
It's all part of an effort to show that he's out in the community, listening to parents.
"Over the next 30 days, I'm going to be out meeting with parent leaders, community based organizations, faith based leaders, residents of the Housing Authority," Walcott told the church. "We're going to form a strong partnership with the New York City Housing Authority, making sure that we've touched every parent, every adult in the lives of our students."
The parishioners, including many public housing tenants, welcomed him with a standing ovation and a welcome cheer from the Diamond Squad cheerleaders of Brooklyn's Public School 307.
Unlike Black, who lived on the upper East Side and had barely stepped foot in a public school before becoming chancellor, Queens-born Walcott is part of four generations of public school students.
"What I want to dedicate the next two and a half years to is making sure that parents are fully engaged in the lives of their children," Walcott told the church. "I pledge to all of you we're going to do that 100 percent of the time, to make sure parents are full partners in the lives of their children, as well as involved in the Department of Education."
But once again, don't be fooled by the messenger - the message is still the same as the one under Black and Klein:
Walcott told reporters that he wasn't trying to be the anti-Black - or be distinguish himself from Black's predecessor, Joel Klein. He helped implement all of the polices of both controversial chancellors, he said.
"The reality is I have a style that might be slightly different from Cathie's or Joel's [but] I believe in the policies we have in place," he said.
Just a cynical move by Bloomberg to win over parents who hate the policies by changing the messenger, but not the policies.
Will it work?
So far, it seem to be:
Walcott's visit seemed to go over well at the Church of the Open Door.
"It's wonderful that he's here," said Mildred Phillips, a parishioner whose daughter is a teacher. "If he does what he promises, I look forward to it."
Teresa Coombs, 40, the mother of a 6th grader, called Walcott's visit "a show of good faith," but said he needs to do something to prevent Bloomberg's plan to layoff 4,666 teachers.
"The layoffs of teachers is detrimental to low income communities like ours," Coombs said. "He has to rethink the budget."
But we'll see how long the good will lasts - since the policies aren't changing, I suspect the good will many parents are giving him won't last much longer than Cathie Black herself lasted.