Schools Chancellor Caranza’s Departure: Mayor de Blasio Had Hindered Desegregation Solutions

Ms. Porter
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New Chancellor Meisha Porter. Screenshot: ABC News.

By Jumaane D. Williams.

I want to thank New York City Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza for his service and collaboration, and recognize his dedication and drive. Chancellor Carranza assumed his position three years ago amid a difficult time for education in our city, with large challenges looming, but the final year of his tenure would become the most difficult and turbulent time for education in memory as the Department of Education, along with the rest of the city and nation, struggled to respond to the pandemic that took a terrible, personal toll on the Chancellor and his family.

As a frequent critic of decisions of the Department of Education, it was often difficult to discern where that criticism should go. I have often said that as the only constant amid the pandemic has been change, the Chancellor was given the near-impossible task of building the plane while flying it. However, it became clear to me that too often, the administration was focused on the wrong parts of that plane-and that much of the blame was on City Hall. 

Through a focus on rushing to reopen in-person education rather than improving the remote learning that would be at the heart of this year's strategy no matter what, the administration ultimately created even more chaos and lost the confidence of parents, students, administrators and educators. Rebuilding that confidence will be a key priority as we move forward in the work for safe, just, and equitable education. 

The Chancellor has long professed his dedication to a progressive vision for equity in education. While some significant strides have been made toward that goal, many of the Mayor's strategies have run counter to it. This is seen clearly in the administration finally making progress in ending the segregation of the gifted and talented program in future years, but embracing an even worse strategy for 2021.

There is immense work to be done, and to that end I want to congratulate Meisha Porter as she assumes this new role and becomes the first Black woman to hold it.  As a product of the public schools system, hearing her speak of her own history as first a student, then staff in that very system gave me great pride. 

To hear her say with intention "to all the little girls out there, I'm saving a seat for you" was incredibly impactful - especially to Black women like my fiancée and Black girls like my step-daughter, who often feel left out of reform discussions. I look forward to working with her to ensure that every young person in our city has a just and safe place to learn and grow, in recovery from the pandemic and beyond.

 

Williams is the New York City Public Advocate.

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