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New York City Names 1st Black Schools Chief

January 03, 1988|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Minneapolis School Supt. Richard R. Green was named Saturday as the first black chancellor of the New York City school system, the nation's largest.

Green was the consensus choice of the Board of Education, which will vote formally on Wednesday, board President Robert F. Wagner Jr. said. Green is expected to start the job in several months.

Green cannot formally accept the position until the board approves him in an open meeting, Wagner said.

"If public education can work in New York City, it can work anywhere in the country," Green said at a news conference at his south Minneapolis home. "It can work and will. I don't believe in failure."

As chancellor, Green will face the challenge of dramatically improving a school system that is not only the largest, but also among the most troubled.

High Dropout Rate

New York schools are plagued by one of the nation's highest dropout rates, aging and often decrepit buildings and a politically combative hierarchy that makes any change difficult to achieve. The district serves nearly 1 million students in 965 public schools, figures show.

Green, 51, was chosen over former Deputy Chancellor Bernard Gifford, dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. Gifford, who had lobbied for the job, was considered the favorite of the teachers union, and Green was favored by Wagner and Mayor Edward I. Koch.

The board decided after last-minute interviews with Gifford and Hernan Lafontaine, the Hartford, Conn., school superintendent.

Among other finalists was Pittsburgh School Supt. Richard Wallace, who was considered a long shot, in part because he is white. Black leaders had demanded that the next chancellor be black; the New York school system is about 38% black and 34% Latino.

Green, who succeeds Nathan Quinones, is expected to earn more than the current pay of $125,000. He earned $86,887 in Minneapolis.

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