Caroline Kennedy, the School Advocate, Returns

Caroline Kennedy is busy again — far from political controversy — with her unpaid job as advocate for New York's public schools.

Kennedy appeared Thursday at a Madison Avenue gallery to announce an art gallery walk for students.

"There are many ways for New Yorkers to get involved to help our public schools, and the galleries of Madison Avenue are setting a brilliant example for us all," said Kennedy as she mingled with education officials, teachers and children in the Gagosian Gallery.

Kennedy's low-key appearance was in sharp contrast to the bruising weeks she spent in the public eye earlier this year hoping to be appointed to the Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton. She withdrew from consideration on January 22, citing personal reasons.

New York Gov. David Paterson has acknowledged that a staffer leaked unsubstantiated claims that Kennedy faced possible tax, nanny and marital problems. A state ethics panel is now reviewing the leaks to determine whether they violated laws prohibiting the release of confidential information.

The governor selected Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Clinton's Senate seat.

A class of public school students sat on the floor of the Gagosian Gallery during Thursday's news conference.

On Saturday, hundreds are expected to take the walk, led by teachers who will instruct them about art ranging from ancient Chinese works to contemporary painting and sculpture.

Fifty private galleries will open their doors for the Madison Avenue Gallery Walk, organized by The Fund for Public Schools, a public-private partnership started in 2002 to attract private funding for public schools. Kennedy is the vice chair, credited with raising tens of millions of dollars for education over the years.

A silent auction of notable artworks donated by participating galleries will benefit the fund.

"Caroline helped create the blueprint for the schools' arts curriculum," said Commissioner Kate D. Levin. "The object is to raise money as well as awareness."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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