Black Wasn't Bloomberg's First Choice to Run Schools: Report

Harlem education reformer Geoffrey Canada turned down job offer

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    Cathie Black during a news conference at City Hall in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    Mayor Bloomberg's controversial selection for School's Chancellor, Cathie Black, was not his first choice for the job, according to a published report.

    Bloomberg first tried to persuade Geoffrey Canada, the creator of Harlem Children's Zone and prominent leader in education reform, for the position, reports The New York Times. Canada turned it down, according to two people who knew about the discussion.

    Canada said they merely had a chat about the position.

    “It was just a very frank and open conversation,” Canada told the Times. “He was really seeking my opinions on what I thought would be the characteristics of a good chancellor.”

    A spokesman for the mayor decline to comment on the story.

    Bloomberg, who has tried to keep the selection process private, hasn't been forthcoming on whom he consulted when selecting a replacement for outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein -- or how he ultimately decided on Black.

    Bloomberg received rampant criticism for selecting Black -- a published executive and personal friend of the mayor's who has no experience with public schools. Despite living in Manhattan, her two children attended a private boarding school in Connecticut.

    Canada, on the other hand, is a fierce advocate for charter schools, and has decades of experience working in education and education reform. Like Black, he is also a close ally of Bloomberg.

    In a recent interview with New York Magazine, the mayor cited Canada as the "most important living person in the city."  He has also donated at least $675,000 to the Harlem's Children Zone through the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a foundation that donates the mayor's money.