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Reaction to the choice

November 10, 2010 1:59:52 PM PST
She has an enormous challenge ahead of her, just like her predecessor did.

In fact, just like all the Chancellors of the New York City Schools system have had. The biggest school system in the country - with more than 1 million students, a budget of $23 billion a year, and about 135,000 employees.

Cathie Black, the veteran and hugely successful publishing executive, will become the first woman to be New York City Schools Chancellor. Her gender isn't creating any controversy (as it shouldn't). But her resume is.

Just take a glance at the feedback to our website (CLICK HERE), and you'll see that her lack of experience in the field of education has many people scratching their heads. Of course there was also much head scratching when Joel Klein was appointed by New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg eight years ago. Klein had no educational experience either, having served as a lawyer in the media and in the Justice Dept.

So the question is begged: Should a schools chancellor have a background in education or in management?

The answer is yes.

In the end, it's the kind of person in the job that matters. Would it help to have some interest in education? You bet. Would it help to know how to run an aircraft carrier of an organization? You bet, again.

It's hard to argue that New York City Schools aren't better run than they were a decade ago. But it's probably also wrong to argue that the quality of public education in New York has been transformed during that time.

Public schools here still suffer, which means the kids still suffer, which means everyone suffers. A solid, basic education is an absolute necessity for a child to hope for a productive life as an adult. And if you don't buy that argument for helping to boost the quality of the school system, then consider this: The students of today are the providers of our Social Security system tomorrow. The worse they do in school, then the worse they do in the work world. And that translates into making less money to pump into the Social Security system to take care of all those who will need that money at some point in the future.

If you don't buy into altruism, then believe in the self-interest argument.

We'll have the latest on reaction to Black's appointment, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we're in San Diego, where a few dozen New Yorkers are arriving from a cruise ship voyage from hell. Their Carnival trip to Mexico landed the ship dead in the water after a fire in the engine. Their choice: Get towed, or tugged, to Ensenada, or to San Diego. They're heading north. Among the nearly 5,000 people on board: dozens of senior citizens from Yonkers. Our Jeff Pegues is in San Diego for us tonight.

We're also on Long Island, where a young woman is lucky to be alive. On Halloween her car exploded while she was at a gas pump. And it wasn't her fault. She was in her car about to get gas when another car slammed into the pump. Kaboom.

She talks tonight to our Lauren DeFranco, about the near-death experience, and about the nightmares that plague her.

And we'll show you the new cigarette "ads" that will appear as warning labels on cigarette packages - gruesome images about the physical tolls smoking takes.

Before we go on the air, ABC will air the Country Music Awards, which will feature the country music singing debut of actress - and New Yorker - Gwyneth Paltrow. Turns out, Ms. Paltrow, a graduate of The Spence School in Manhattan, had to lose 20 pounds - and fast - for her appearance tonight, after she gained the weight for a movie role.

So how did she do it? She's an exercise fanatic anyway - but we have her tips on how to drop the weight, and fast. Carolina Leid has our story.

And finally, money is in the news. Big money. Today we learned that the U.S. started its new budget year last month with the third highest monthly debt on record - $140.4 billion. Ironically, the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform issued its report today, offering ways to reduce the national debt by $4 trillion over the next 10 years. And the suggestions have something that will tick off just about everyone: $2 trillion in spending cuts, $1 trillion in tax hikes, means-testing for Social Security benefits, and upping the future retirement age to 69.

Welcome to the new reality.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

P.S. Thanks to all of you who wrote in - praising me for criticizing a truck driver for cutting off pedestrians in the crosswalk, but lampooning me for getting into a verbal tussle with the guy. Point taken.

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