Hearst’s Cathie Black Steps Down To Run NYC School System

Was anyone not surprised yesterday when it was announced that Hearst chairwoman Cathie Black would take over as chancellor of the New York City school system?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg himself asked Black, who has no previous experience in education, to take over for outgoing chancellor Joel Klein. Black is well known in the publishing business for guiding a range of publications to success, and until this summer she presided over the magazine division at Hearst. She’s also famous for her no-nonsense approach to management. And that’s exactly why Bloomberg says he hired her.

“Cathy is a world-class manager, and she is uniquely qualified to take us in the direction people keep talking about: jobs, jobs, jobs,” Bloomberg said. “That is something Cathie Black knows about, as much as anybody in this room.”

Still, it hasn’t escaped the attention of the press that Black’s children go to private school in Connecticut and that she’s had limited exposure to labor unions. Whether or not her ability to convince Oprah to start her own magazine at Hearst will translate into comparable magic in public education remains to be seen.

By the end of the year, Black will be the first woman to head the nation’s largest school system, and the shuffling caused by her appointment has the media world all aflutter. Black’s predecessor Joel Klein will now report to Rupert Murdoch as an executive vice president at News Corp. He had been the city’s education chancellor for eight years and had no previous experience in education when he came on board. (We feel compelled to point out that Bloomberg also had no experience in politics before being elected mayor in 2001.) Back at Hearst, recent Black had been teaching recent Conde Nast transplant David Carey how to do her job as magazine division president, but with her out of the way he’ll be able to make his mark on the company much faster.

Naysayers are already naysaying and poking fun at Black — The New York Observer‘s Kyle Pope tweeted, “this is all very odd” — and while we’re surprised that she was chosen for this gig, we’re reluctant to second guess her obvious talent and ability before she’s been tested. Let’s see what she can do.

Related:

City’s New Schools Chief Has Much in Common With Boss [The New York Times]
Cathie Black Meets the Press [WWD]
If You Say So: Hearst Exec Cathie Black Takes On Role Of NYC Schools Chancellor As Joel Klein Moves To News Corp. [Fishbowl NY]

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