On Monday, Carmen Fariña, a former top official of the New York City Education Department, was named as the next chancellor of the nation’s largest public school system by New York City’s Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio.
According to Jill Colvin of PolitickerNY, Mr. de Blasio announced Farina’s appointment at a Monday press conference located at a Park Slope middle school. The announcement marks the latest hire for Mr. de Blasio, who will officially take office at 12:01 a.m. on January 1 and has so far appointed just a handful of top-level posts. In the unveiling of Fariña’s hire, de Blasio had special praise for her.
“Carmen won’t just be my chancellor as mayor; she’ll be my chancellor as a public school parent. For years, I’ve watched her innovate new ways to reach students, transform troubled schools and fight against wrongheaded policies that hurt our kids. Carmen has worked at nearly every level of this school system. She knows our students, teachers, principals and parents better than anyone, and she will deliver progressive change in our schools that lifts up children in every neighborhood,” said Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio.
Professor of Education and Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center at New York University, Pedro Noguera, hailed de Blasio’s selection of Fariña.
“Mayor-Elect de Blasio has made an excellent choice in picking Carmen Farina to lead New York’s public schools. For the first time in many years the nation’s largest school system will be led by an educator with a keen understanding of curriculum and instruction, who is committed to actively supporting our public schools,” he said. “Dr. Farina brings a broad range of knowledge and experience to the role and is well aware of the strengths and weaknesses within the system. Her appointment is a major step forward for New York City’s schools and its children.”
Additionally, Council Member and Manhattan Borough President-Elect, Gale Brewer, echoed Noguera’s words by saying he was “thrilled” by de Blasio’s choice.
“Carmen Farina is a true change agent. She knows how to innovate and bring people together. She’s been a conscience and a voice for the disempowered in this school system for as long as I can remember,” Brewer said. “I’m thrilled Mayor-Elect de Blasio has chosen a Chancellor who can move us past the divisiveness that has held back our school system, and usher in a new era of shared purpose so we can lift up every school.”
Farina, 70, takes charge of a system with 1.2 million students at a time when long-simmering debates over teacher compensation and discipline and the place of charter schools in urban education are coming to a head. According to Edith Honan of Yahoo News, Farina spent 22 years as an elementary school teacher in Brooklyn, where Farina was recruited by the Board of Education to expand and help implement her successful reading curriculum. In 2004, she became a core curriculum director, a regional superintendent and a deputy chancellor for teaching and learning at the Department of Education, where she developed strategies to help prepare middle school students for junior high school.
“True change happens not through mandates and top-down decision-making but through communication, collaboration and celebrating the successes along the way,” said Farina, who has advised de Blasio on education issues for more than a decade. “Raising the success rate of our students is the only goal.”
As Javier C. Hernandez of The New York Times reports, Mr. de Blasio’s skepticism of standardized testing and his focus on early education is shared by Ms. Farina. She will help shape his proposal to expand access to preschool and after-school programs as chancellor.