Notre Dame trustee Cathie Black was forced to resign from her position as New York City’s schools chancellor last Thursday.  It was the 95th day of her tenure in a position that is ordinarily held for three years.

According to the New York Times and other sources, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg demanded that Black resign in a private meeting earlier that day, and Black agreed almost immediately.

A poll released by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion on April 4 measured Black’s job approval rating to be 17 percent, down from 21 percent in February.

Black’s brief stint as schools chancellor was marked by controversy.

Black was booed and heckled during numerous meetings open to the public.  During a meeting in lower Manhattan, Black addressed a question about school closing with the quip, “Could we just have some birth control for a while?”  She also compared questions of school overcrowding to “many Sophie’s Choices,” a reference to William Styron’s 1979 novel in which a mother is forced to choose which of her two children will survive a Nazi concentration camp.  At another point, she appeared to mock protestors at public hearings on school failure and closings.

According to numerous reports, Black’s own staff appeared to lack confidence in her.  In a recent meeting of educational officials, for instance, Black was nearly pushed aside by a member of the Education Department who seized the microphone to answer a question directed to her.

Black’s appointment was reported to have come as a surprise to some members of Bloomberg’s education department, particularly since she lacked prior educational experience.

Prior to assuming her role as schools chancellor, Black served as chairman of Hearst Magazines, which publishes Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Marie Claire, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, O, The Oprah Magazine, and many others.  She has served in various positions within the media and publishing industry, including an 8-year stint as president and publisher of USA Today.

Black will be replaced by a New York deputy mayor, Dennis M. Walcott, with educational experience as a teacher and administrator.

Claire Gillen reckons powerlines are a reminder of man’s ability to generate electricity.  Contact her at