U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday that incoming New York City schools Chancellor Cathie Black "has the potential to be a fantastic leader'' and he will do everything he can to support her.
Duncan said he planned to meet later Thursday with Black, a publishing executive who has been a controversial choice to lead the nation's largest school system because she has no background as an educator.
"I think she's going to do a great job, and I'm going to do whatever I can to be a good partner and to help her be successful,'' Duncan said.
Duncan, who led Chicago's public school system before President Barack Obama tapped him for a Cabinet post, was in New York for an announcement about an initiative to beef up GED programs.
Asked whether Black would be handicapped by her lack of conventional education credentials, Duncan said, "There are challenges whether you're conventional or unconventional. Anyone coming to this job has a huge learning curve.''
He added, "in Chicago I worked for the previous superintendent before I got the job. ... I sort of thought I knew it, and when I got there I had no idea how big my learning curve was.''