THE BRONX - Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott called the tone of debate surrounding teacher layoffs, standardized testing and charter schools "poisonous."

The new chancellor says there is a need to calm tensions between different parties in the city's school system. He also blamed both sides in the debate over teacher layoffs for contributing to the "polarized atmosphere."

Walcott says he views his appointment as an opportunity for both sides to "begin anew."

Mayor Bloomberg appointed Walcott to head the city's 1.1 million-student school system back on April 7 after publishing executive Cathie Black resigned.