Will the Runner-Up Prove to be the Remedy?

Newly-Appointed Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza with Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: NYC

By Maitefa Angaza

As we know, Mayor Bill De Blasio’s last choice for the new Schools Chancellor stood him up. So, we’d expect that this time, Bill De Blasio would think carefully about who he invites to the dance. He claims to have done his homework, even as word makes its way from Houston and San Francisco that Richard Carranza may not be the answer to our prayers. Some say that he did not do enough to advance access to quality education for Black and Latino students in those cities; others in those locales sing his praises.

There will always be detractors, of course, but what seems to be missing is the weigh-in we should have had from our own seasoned New York City education professionals. A few of them have polite praise for Carranza, while some would have preferred Caravalho. But, as Errol Louis said in a recent Daily News opinion piece, the Mayor would have done well by seeking the input of the people whose job it is to know what – and who—makes for a good chancellor.

“Places like NYU, Teachers College and the Bank Street College of Education are literally stuffed with people who possess sharp minds, broad vision and, collectively, millennia of experience in how to educate the young,” said Louis. “Their insights are de Blasio’s for the asking. If only he would ask.”

But, the Mayor did not ask, and now New Yorkers will see the answers to their questions unfold in real time. Carranza arrived on schedule for a press conference the other day to be interviewed beside his wife. The mayor spoke glowingly about him, Carmen Farina signaled her approval, and Carranza appeared delighted at his new appointment. Back in Houston, though,

‘’There is no daylight between Mayor de Blasio and myself in terms of what we believe in or what our aspirations are for the children of New York City,” Mr. Carranza said, a lifelong educator, said. “My word is my bond, we shook hands,” he said. “I’ll be in New York City as long as you’ll have me.”

Carranza, like outgoing Chancellor Carmen Farina, is no big fan of charter schools, a stance that does not thrill Eva Moskowitz. And he and the mayor are of the same mind about keeping guns out of schools. Two important issues that can help us to read his compass in the upcoming weeks.

Let’s hope the words of Evan Stone, co-founder and co-CEO of Educators for Excellence, a teacher advocacy group, are prove prescient:

“In selecting Richard Carranza, Mayor de Blasio has chosen a lifelong educator and a proven leader with a track record of leading large and diverse school districts, seeking the input of communities and teachers and focusing on improving outcomes for students who have been historically underserved – experiences that should set him up for success in our nation’s largest school district. We are also excited by Mr. Carranza’s history of coupling improved student achievement with a reduction in punitive discipline.