A state judge is scheduled to hear arguments by a dozen parents challenging the choice of a magazine executive as New York City schools chancellor starting next year.
In lawsuits before State Supreme Court Acting Justice Gerald Connelly, the parents of public school students say 66-year-old Cathie Black lacks required educational experience or academic credentials or substitute equivalents to justify her selection.
Connelly is hearing arguments Thursday morning. Black is chairwoman of Hearst Magazines. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg lauded her as a "world-class manager'' in choosing her.
The appointment required a waiver from state Department of Education Commissioner David Steiner, granted on the condition that she appoint a seasoned educator as chief academic officer.
Shortly after her appointment, Black asked parents to "Give me a chance. I will listen. I will be out in the community," she said. "Don't judge someone that you have never even met."
Speaking about her decision to send her own children to private schools, Black said that "schools in New York City 15 years ago were not at the caliber that they are today."
"At the end of the day, it is about choice. And we made that choice. But I'm here to serve New York City's 1.1 million children in the most effective way, to give their parents choice to choose the best schools possible," she said.
She defended mayoral control of the city and deflected questions about the transparency of her selection. "I can't talk about the process," she said.
She was critical of teacher tenure, saying she couldn't imagine saying to somebody at age 24 or 25 that they "have lifetime guarantee for this position, just show up every day. It's inconceivable."
When the interviewer hinted that such a view might stir up resentment from teachers, she was resolute.
"If children first is really at the heart of what a teacher should be doing, there should be ways that we can work at this," she responded.
Asked how she felt about the opposition to her selection, she said she did not take it personally and felt that critics were simply "venting their own anger" because they do not know her personally.
"None of this is going to change the outcome," she said. "So let's go forward — together."