As the frenzied effort to market Cathie Black as a viable choice to run New York City schools came to a close, the nominee herself came to a realization.
“Frankly this sucks and I cannot imagine a more poorly thought out decision on mb side,” Black, using a short hand for Mayor Bloomberg, wrote in an email on Nov. 23, 2010. That night, Black found out a panel convened to review her qualifications because she lacked the proper education credentials had rejected her appointment.
“To be hung out in public with no fore thought is inconceivable to me,” Black continued in the email, which was to Department of Education press secretary Natalie Ravitz. “But muscle on…I can only imagine the headlines tomorrow.”
The emails are part of hundreds of pages of emails released Friday night by the Department of Education in response to a Freedom of Information Law request from then-Village Voice reporter Sergio Hernandez. The trove of emails, which Hernandez posted to his personal web site, were the second batch sent out in the last seven months. They chronicle the city’s plans to prepare Black to face skeptical elected officials, reporters and state education officials who had the final say into whether she could get the job.
Black, publishing executive with no education experience, was picked by Bloomberg to succeed longtime Chancellor Joel Klein in the fall of 2010. Black was eventually approved, but she resigned after just three tumultuous months, a tenure marked by gaffes and high-level defections that further damaged the department’s leadership.
To this day, her tenure remains such a stain on Mayor Bloomberg’s education legacy that he sometimes pretends the ordeal never happened.
And Black even got offered favors from high places. David Westin, president of ABC News from 1997 to 2010, emailed Black to let her know that “I’m probably one of a very few of your friends who knows Bernard Pierazio (Superintendent of Yonkers Schools) pretty well.”
“I understand Bernard (and, yes, it’s “Bernard,” not “Bernie) is on the committee reviewing your request for certification,” wrote Westin, who was involved in a charity with Pierazio. “Just let me know if I can help in anyway.”
We’ll continue to look at the emails next week. In the meantime, a link to all of them can be found here.