Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves NYC school Chief and a resignation.
NYC public school chancellor Richard Carranza, announced on Friday that he would resign in March, an abrupt move that comes after heated disagreements with Mayor Bill de Blasio over desegregation policies and in the middle of the city’s push to return thousands more students to classrooms.
Carranza will be replaced as schools chancellor by Meisha Porter, a longtime city educator and current Bronx superintendent. Porter, will become the first Black woman to lead the sprawling New York City system, which has over one million students and 1,800 schools. She will take over as chancellor on March 15,2021.
Carranza played a major role in ensuring that New York City was the first large district in the country to fully reopen schools, if only temporarily, last fall. The chancellor has maintained better relations than NYC mayor Bill de Blasio with some officials in the powerful teachers union, and that helped him negotiate reopening agreements. Carranza’s announcement follows years of tension with the mayor involving major decisions. The chancellor and other senior education officials sometimes felt that their expertise was overruled or disregarded by de Blasio, who runs the school district under mayoral control.
Carranza vowed from his first day as chancellor to tackle entrenched segregation in the city’s schools, while the mayor has largely avoided even using the word. New York is home to one of the most segregated school systems in the nation, a problem that has worsened over the last few decades as the city has introduced more selective admissions policies for elementary, middle and high school. It became clear several months into Carranza’s tenure that the mayor and chancellor had fundamentally different approaches to the problem, particularly when it came to selective admissions policies and gifted and talented programs.
The issues came to a head earlier this month, during one heated conversation between Carranza and de Blasio over the future of gifted and talented classes, according to several people with direct knowledge of that conversation. Carranza drafted a resignation letter after that meeting, but did not immediately quit.
The issue was whether the city should continue to sort 4 year olds into gifted and talented classes through a selective admissions process. de Blasio had said that the city would continue to offer an admissions exam for toddlers this year, then announce a new admissions system before he leaves office in January. Carranza had consistently said he wanted the test abandoned altogether, and that the city’s gifted program was fundamentally unfair. White and Asian American students hold about 75 percent of seats in the city’s gifted programs, whereas Black and Latino children make up about 70 percent of the overall district. The city will not give the test this year, but only because an education panel that typically acts as a rubber stamp for City Hall took the extremely rare step of rejecting de Blasio’s plan to offer it. The city will instead create a lottery system for young children who are recommended by their prekindergarten teachers or who sit for a short interview.
Carranza, who led the Houston school district during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and previously ran San Francisco’s public schools, was de Blasio’s second choice for a job that some education experts consider the second most important in the country, after the federal education secretary. He was hired in a hurry, after the mayor’s first choice, Alberto M. Carvalho, the superintendent in Miami, turned down the job on national television. Carranza was appointed a few days later.
From his first news conference as chancellor, it was clear that he was much more willing to speak forcefully about school segregation than his boss. And a few months after he took office, it appeared that his oratory might translate into action. In June 2018, the mayor and chancellor announced a plan to get rid of the selective admissions exam that dictates entry into the city’s elite high schools, including Stuyvesant High School and The Bronx High School of Science. Admissions into the so called specialized high schools is largely controlled by the State Legislature.
Black students are highly underrepresented in those schools, and low income Asian American children are overrepresented. Some Asian American politicians and families were insulted that they were not consulted about the plan, and many took offense to Carranza’s clumsy defense of the proposal. “I just don’t buy into the narrative that any one ethnic group owns admission to these schools,” he said shortly after it was announced. A major backlash to the plan, led by Asian Americans quickly killed the mayor and chancellor’s hopes of replacing the specialized school admissions exam. The parents who fought to keep the exam in place have since become Carranza’s harshest critics.
Carranza and his senior aides had been pushing the mayor for years to get rid of that geographic preference, which applied to students living on the Upper East Side, the West Village and TriBeCa. Altered admissions processes during the pandemic essentially gave Mr. de Blasio a reason to finally eliminate the rule. Beyond conflicts on integration, the chancellor has had a habit of publicly contradicting the mayor on a range of issues.
Just a few days after he started on the job, Carranza called the idea behind the mayor’s nearly $800 million school improvement program, called Renewal, “Fuzzy”. The chancellor later had to defend the program, even after the city canceled it after disappointing results. Then, earlier this week, the chancellor encouraged families to refuse standardized testing this year, after President Biden’s administration said states would have to give exams amid the pandemic. Carranza’s stance directly contradicted the mayor’s message on test refusal. The chancellor and mayor were aligned in pushing to open New York City classrooms last fall, after a rushed experiment in remote learning. The mayor closed all schools in November as virus cases rose, then reopened only elementary schools in December. Middle school students returned to their classrooms earlier this week.
“We have stabilized the system in a way no one thought possible,” Carranza said on Friday. “The light is at the end of the tunnel.”
de Blasio denied that his chancellor resigned because of disagreements over integration in a radio interview on Friday, though he did not directly address similar questions when he was seated next to Mr. Carranza at a news conference earlier in the day.