Oprah Winfrey, not education, dominated email messages between City Hall officials and Cathie Black at the start of Black's brief and bizarre stint as city schools chancellor.
The city's long battle to prevent the public from seeing emails about how Black, a publishing executive with no education experience, came to be chancellor for 100 tumultuous days in 2010 and 2011 came to an end today with a court order to release the messages.
The 78 pages of emails reflect communication only through 10 days after Black's appointment in November 2010, which is when then-Village Voice reporter Sergio Hernandez filed a Freedom of Information Law request for them. Still, the emails paint a full picture of a frenzied effort to tilt public opinion in Black's favor amid what the chancellor-nominee called "relentless press." Those efforts centered on petitioning prominent women including Winfrey and Caroline Kennedy to endorse Black publicly.
Here's what the emails tell us about this short, weird moment in the city's education history:
1. Bloomberg's choice was set a week before he publicly picked Black. When the "small tectonic shift" of Chancellor Joel Klein's resignation and Black's appointment to replace him came on Nov. 9, 2010, it seemed like the news took officials at the Department of Education and City Hall by surprise, too.