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Retired teachers, Greens stage protest outside Hearst headquarters

Group of five retired teachers demanded to be interviewed for Cathie Black's job

To protest the appointment of Cathie Black, the former head of Hearst Magazines, as NYC schools chancellor, a small group of Green Party members staged a demonstration in front of the Hearst Corporation headquarters in Midtown Manhattan.

The group of five retired teachers even walked through the glass doors with resumes in hand and demanded to be interviewed for Cathie Black's job.

"You will see if you review my resume that I am absolutely unqualified to run a publishing company, which is exactly what Cathie Black is to run the NYC public school system," Gloria Mattera, former Green Party candidate for lieutenant governor, said.

Elizabeth Shanklin, a 30-year educator who was leading the protest, said Cathie Black was not qualified to take over the school system.

"We are trying to show how preposterous it is to put a person with no education qualifications as a leader of professional educators. Mayor Bloomberg is part of an agenda to privatise public schools and turn them into private for-profit businesses," she claimed.

However, the group of five protesters could not advance much further as they were stopped by the security at Hearst after politely accepting their resumes.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.