Cathie Black's College Grades Are a State Secret

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Would-be schools chancellor Cathie Black's college transcripts have been released -- minus her grades, which were blacked out for privacy reasons by state and city officials. This official action is marvelously summed up in today's Daily News by education reporter, Meredith Kolodner:

"The City gives every public school a grade and wants to make teacher evaluations public -- but don't ask Cathie Black how she did in 'History of Art 1'."

The transcript from Black's days at Trinity College from 1962-1966 was appended to her application for a waiver of state education requirements for the chancellor's post, such as past teaching experience and educational courses. Black didn't study education, but she did take "Introduction to the Sacred Script," and "Dogma of God in Creation, plus a drama class in "Liturgical Singing" while attending the small Catholic college in Washington, D.C. She also took French and Italian for two years, and spent her junior year abroad.

We can't know what she got in those courses, however, since all those 40-plus-year-old grades are a private matter, officials insist.

There are federal privacy laws protecting school grades (Thank G-d!), but nothing stops you from voluntarily releasing them, if you want. The Black grades black-out sparked some unusually tough exchanges between reporters and educrats yesterday. Here's Beth Fertig of WNYC's report on her efforts to pierce the grade-point average wall:

New York City Department of Education spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz was asked by WNYC whether Cathie Black would voluntarily release her grades. "I'm declining to release her transcripts," Ravitz responded by email. When asked why, Ravitz repeated, "Because I'm declining to release them."

Meanwhile, there's a tough new poll out this morning showing that Mayor Bloomberg's executive decision to name ex-Hearst publishing big Black as new city schools chancellor is striking out with New Yorkers: 51 percent polled don't think Black is qualified to run the schools, with only 26 percent giving her a thumb's up. Bloomberg himself is down to approval rating of 55-35 percent, his lowest poll numbers since June, 2005.


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