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Critics Protest Bloomberg's Schools Chief Choice

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg says his choice to lead New York City's public schools is a "world-class manager," but not everyone is convinced she is the right person for the job of schools chancellor.

Bloomberg recently announced that he had chosen Hearst magazines chairwoman Cathie Black to replace outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein.

Civil rights leaders and parent activists protested Black's appointment at a news conference Sunday in front of the Tweed Education Building on Chambers Street.

They urged the state education commissioner not to grant Black the waiver she would need to lead New York City's 1.1 million-pupil school system.

Klein, a lawyer and former federal prosecutor, also needed a waiver before he could take over as chancellor.

Civil Rights Attorney Norman Siegel said the selection of Black set a "horrible precedent."

"Are we going to appoint someone to be the head of the police department who has no law enforcement experience," Siegel asked Sunday on WCBS 880.

Black has no background as an educator and sent her own children to a private boarding school.

At the news conference, parent activist Leonie Haimson, who heads a group called Class Size Matters said Black is not qualified to be chancellor.

"If you haven't been a teacher you don't know how difficult it is, and you don't know that what matters most happens inside the classroom between a teacher and students," Haimson said.

Critics also said Black's privileged background made her an inappropriate choice.

"How is somebody who only knows people exactly like themselves going to relate to the Asian immigrants or the black students or the Hispanic students?" said Manhattan public school parent Tina Schiller.

Siegel said "Miss Black appears to lack the educational credentials and qualifications to be the New York City Chancellor" and even said the selection "raised the specter of cronyism."

"There appears to have been no process undertaken that accords with the principles and values associated with equal employment opportunity."

"The right thing to do here is for the state commissioner to turn down the waiver request and to tell the mayor that he has to engage in a public search process leading to the best educator that we can find to lead our public schools."

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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