Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has the reputation – rightly or wrongly – of being a stubborn individual slow to admit that he made a mistake, did just that last week.
The mayor accepted the resignation of his controversial selection to replace Joel Klein as Schools Chancellor. The resignation was no doubt coerced by an administration that was taking a huge hit in popularity since the appointment.
When the mayor announced that Cathie Black, who spent her professional years in the publishing business, would replace Klein, he was immediately criticized for his selection.
The critics argued that Black had no experience in education, let alone public policy issues. How could she possibly head the public school system? Black immediately got into hot water for controversial statements like joking that overcrowded classrooms could be solved by more birth control and for yelling at parents at public hearings.
It became immediately clear that Black's brash style, while probably an asset in the private sector, just wouldn't cut it in public service.
Now just months after she was appointed, she's out the door.
Replacing her is Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, a man with an impeccable resume and reputation. Walcott has spent years in public service, and already in his first week he is being well received
Walcott was born and raised in Queens, and attended public school there. He has an easy and comfortable air about him, a necessary trait for working in education, where issues can quickly become emotionally charged. We are, after all, talking about people's children here.
Will Walcott run into some problems down the road? Almost undoubtedly, but by all accounts it appears that he should have been Klein's replacement all along.