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Monday, February 17, 2020

NYC Chancellor Richard Carranza Builds a Wall To Keep Parents Away

 I guess building barriers against "the bad guys" is a trend in the 21st century. Here, I mean NYC parents and students. Chancellor Richard Carranza has created a new office for himself far from the maddening crowd on the 3rd floor of Tweed, the Education Department headquarters on 52 Chambers Street. I can just imagine all the fine furniture he possibly has bought too. He doesn't want any parent riff raff to get near him.

He just gets more and more ridiculous. His partner? NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

I previously posted on this blog the incident with Burt Sacks. See "Sex, Lies and Newspapers":

 In September 2001, I was the Editor of the PA Bulletin, the Parents' Association newsletter at Stuyvesant High School. Stuyvesant is about 1 city block away from the World Trade Center, so my daughter was front row center to the planes which flew into the Towers.

Unfortunately, we did not know that Stuyvesant was not cleared to be inside when all the kids were moved back from Brooklyn Tech, where there just was no room. In order for the Principal of Stuyvesant, Stanley Teitel, to make parents and students comfortable being in the building, he asked Chancellor Harold Levy to take an office next to his on the first floor. Then he asked me to keep Chancellor Levy company. Mr. Levy and I had many conversations - actually he did most of the talking and I just listened - but one day I started talking about the theft of more than $13,000 from the Parents' Association at Booker T. Washington MS 54 (and here is part 2) where I was PTA President. Levy told me he would call his good friend Burt Sacks, and he did, right then and there. Burt told me to come to his office at 110 Livingston Street, 11th floor. So I made an appointment.

When I got to 110 Livingston St. in Brooklyn, getting to Burt was like visiting the President of the United States. On the 11th floor when you get off the elevator there was a guard and a huge American Flag. I told the guard my name, showed my ID, and waited until I was told I could go to Burt's office. And Burt was not even Chancellor! I just felt this kind of show of power was overdone.

This is what happened next:
"In or about November, 2002, I was at Tweed (NYC DOE headquarters) for a meeting of parent leaders, when we heard that everyone had to leave immediately in order for new Chancellor Joel Klein to have his cabinet meeting in the room we were in. I just happened to have the complete story of what Burt Sacks had said to me, as well as the details of what I uncovered at Booker T. Washington MS 54, in an envelope with "Chancellor Joel Klein" written on the outside. i assumed that Joel would want coffee, so while my friends left the room I walked s-l-o-w-l-y to the coffee machine, and was standing there when Joel burst into the room. He came over to me and introduced himself, and asked me how good was the coffee? I said it was delicious, and could I give him the envelope I had for him? He said "sure", poured himself some coffee, and sat down at the table with his cabinet, minus one. One chair was empty.
As I left the room (my friends were telling me I better hurry up), I looked back at Joel Klein, and saw that he had taken all the documents out of the envelope and was reading it. Everyone at the table was sitting, not saying anything. I got into the elevator and went to the first floor. I was talking with my friends when Burt Sacks comes running to the elevator and he said "Hello, Betsy! How are you? I'm very late!" I said, "yes, I think the meeting just started." Burt got into the elevator and went upstairs to the second floor.
The next day, newspapers posted how Burt Sacks "retired". Within two weeks Burt was Randi Weingarten's Assistant at the UFT.
 

Betsy Combier, betsy.combier@gmail.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

Richard Carranza
Richard Carranza builds himself big new office in DOE headquarters
by Susan Edelman and Selim Algar, NY POST, February 15, 2020


Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has built himself a palatial new office at the Department of Education’s downtown headquarters, The Post has learned.
Carranza’s new private digs — which include a newly constructed wall — are tucked into the elegant third-floor mezzanine of the historic Tweed Courthouse, high above the old chancellor’s office in Room 152 and the “bullpen” where former chancellors sat at modest work desks amid their staffers.
The wall-construction and office shift — completed in the last two weeks — came as Carranza has beefed up his personal security detail from one bodyguard to two after receiving “threats,” officials confirmed.
“The chancellor needs an office to do work and hold meetings, and it has to be secure,” said his spokeswoman Miranda Barbot. “This space allows for additional security measures and for his staff to be in one place.”
DOE officials said Carranza’s office furniture “was recycled at no additional cost,” but did not say how much the wall construction and other remodeling cost taxpayers.
It’s the first time since the DOE moved into the old Tweed Courthouse in 2002 that a chancellor’s office was rebuilt.
About 50 DOE employees stationed at Tweed had to move their desks to accommodate the chancellor’s new digs, space for his top staff and a conference room, insiders said.
Eric Nadelstern, a deputy chancellor under former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, blasted Carranza’s relocation.
“First, it’s imperious,” he said. “It’s symptomatic of somebody struck by his own self importance. Second, there’s no surplus of space at Tweed.  For the chancellor to carve out that much space, it’s at the expense of other people working there. Third, it’s awfully late in the de Blasio administration for mayoral appointees to have designs on previously shared space.”
Nadelstern also questioned the wall-construction cost. “The reality in NYC is, any money spent outside schools is at the expense of kids and teachers in the classroom.”
A special-needs DOE teacher in Harlem was angered by what she called the chancellor’s extravagance.
“In my school, the classroom libraries are over 20 years old, floors in many classrooms are worn down to the concrete, and our one social worker has a caseload of over 100 students. Once again Chancellor Carranza has demonstrated how not to put the needs of our students above his own, narcissistic, delusional and selfish wants.”
The DOE said the uprooted staffers were moved to empty space on the first and fourth floors and the old chancellor’s office is now available for private meeting space for anyone in the building.
 Former Chancellor Carmen FariƱa, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first appointee, initially sat in the unbarred bullpen on the third-floor below the mezzanine, as did prior Bloomberg chancellors Joel Klein and Dennis Walcott. She eventually took over Room 152, a small ground-floor office that had been used by the principal of a school in the building.

Tweed -NYC Department of Education headquarters
 While Carranza succeeds a prior Hispanic chancellor and a black chancellor, he claims he’s been the butt of racist taunts on social media.  
At a Jan. 20 press conference with Mayor de Blasio, Carranza was asked why he walked out of a districtwide Queens meeting where two parents demanded answers about their kids, one a girl viciously beaten by another student in a caught-on-tape cafeteria fight, the other sexually groped in her classroom.
“Just look at the abject racist things that are said about me. Go back where I came from. Taco eating Carranza. Fire Carranza ayayay with exclamation points in Spanish. Absolutely. They’re racist,” he said.

He also cited “agitators” in the audience who started shouting at him. Protesters who demand Carranza’s firing for various reasons, including alleged bias against Asian Americans, have shown up at his appearances and raised a ruckus.
Carranza, who has planned to conduct a town hall meeting in every school district, has become so nervous about the hostility that he is now flanked by a bodyguard at all times — even on trips to restrooms in the field, an insider told The Post.
The DOE would not give any details on threats against Carranza, saying that doing so would pose a “security risk.”
 “We take any threats seriously and continue to work closely with the NYPD, making adjustments necessary to ensure the Chancellor’s safety,” said DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot.
 

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Schools Chancellor Apologizes, But Parents' Say His Apology is "Too little Too Late"

Chancellor Richard Carranza and Mayor Bill De Blasio
It is indeed sad that NYC Chief Apologist, Chancellor Richard Carranza, seems to want to forget how improper his actions have been in the past couple of weeks - no, let me re-think this...since he took office.

Of course, Carranza had his assistants post the following article on the NYC Department of Education blog on January 30, 2020  just in time to invalidate his apology:

How the DOE is Creating Safe, Supportive Learning Spaces for All Our Students
In early January, The Morning Bell joined Chancellor Richard A. Carranza on a visit to Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance in Bedford-Stuyvesant to observe teacher Catherine Devine and her tenth graders engaged in a restorative circle. 

This activity looks just the way it sounds. Students sit in a circle and talk as a way to build relationships, respond to conflicts, and understand how their actions affect others. Creating safe spaces for students to express their feelings and solve problems together is an important way to keep them in the classroom and focused on learning.
Ms. Devine, a math teacher, began the exercise with a check-in. “How is your week going?” she asked, and responded that hers had been good, but busy.  
Not all of her students were quite as upbeat, with responses ranging from “good” to “bad,” to “very peaceful” and “very tiring.”
 
Following this exercise, the teacher passed around pieces of paper with some of the personal struggles that students had written down, and encouraged the group to try to resolve them together. One student described the stress she felt about all the violence in the world. Classmates suggested taking a break from the news, listening to music, or reaching out for help by talking to the school counselor.
These conversations were reminders that when students enter City schools every morning, teachers may not know what happened to them that day or the week before. Maybe a student’s father lost his job. Maybe a grandparent passed away. Maybe a child had an argument with a friend or simply didn’t get enough sleep.
These kinds of stressors can affect children mentally, emotionally, and academically. To succeed in school and in life, children need both social-emotional skills (for example, the ability to name, manage, and share their feelings) and access to restorative justice (practices that promote conflict resolution and minimize punishment).
School communities like Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance, and across the nation, have experienced the power of these practices. According to studies, students who have social-emotional skills display more understanding, have stronger relationships with their classmates, communicate better with their teachers, and show improved academic performance. And these skills follow them throughout their lives.
Thanks in part to our restorative justice efforts, New York City’s public schools are safer, and students are spending more time in the classroom. Suspensions have fallen roughly 39 percent in the past five years. Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance Principal Danielle Darbee, who began implementing restorative practices in the 2018–19 school year, noted a 63 percent decrease in suspensions over the previous school year. All her teachers now lead restorative circles.
Encouraged by these outcomes and the research, the DOE is expanding social-emotional learning and restorative justice practices citywide. So far, more than 240 elementary schools have participated in training on social-emotional learning through our partner, Sanford Harmony, and 500 middle-and high- schools are part of our ongoing restorative justice training and support.
These are not “soft” skills, notes Chancellor Carranza. Nor do they come at the expense of academics.” Instructional time is lost if students are suspended from school, or if they are not actively engaged in academic studies,” he says. “Learning opportunities are lost if students are worried about what happens outside of the classroom. And they are lost if the body is there, but the mind is not.”
Helping every student gain the social and emotional skills they need to stay focused at school is imperative for their learning, and for coping with life’s challenges that lie ahead.
*****************************************************
From Betsy Combier:
Which story do you want to believe?

See previous posts:
NYC Wants the Chancellor Fired. Now.
NYC ALERT: Do Not Criticize Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza
Former NYC School Chancellors On Carranza Playing Race Card: ‘Put On Your Big Boy Pants’
Schools Chancellor Carranza Says He Has Been Victim Of Racist Remarks Due To His Policies
Carranza’s Failure -  The callous chancellor must go

Dear Chancellor Carranza: How is the Implementation of Your "Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education" Policy Coming Along?

NYC Chancellor Richard Carranza and His "Toxic Whiteness" Social Justice

 NYC DOE Chancellor Carranza Rules With Hate


Betsy Combier, betsy.combier@gmail.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials


Richard Carranza finally apologizes to Queens parents after walkout

, NY POST, January 30, 2020


Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza finally apologized to a pair of Queens parents whose kids were recently assaulted on school grounds — following a two-week avalanche of criticism from parents, teachers and politicians.
“I in no way, shape or form want to show any disrespect to any parent that wants to be heard and I apologize,” Carranza said at a Wednesday night meeting of the Panel for Education Policy. “Because as a parent myself, I can only imagine the pain that parents are feeling when their children have been hurt.”
He also offered to meet with both parents personally, but added he did not want it to be a “public spectacle.”
Carranza walked out of a District 26 meeting in Queens on Jan. 17 after Katty Sterling, the mother of a girl who was beaten in a school cafeteria, and the father of a girl who was sexually assaulted in class demanded time to speak amid a chaotic and contentious gathering of more than 500 people.
But despite Carranza’s belated olive branch, both parents told The Post on Thursday that too much bad blood had already been spilled.
“It’s too little too late,” the father said. “I’m a forgiving person, but the way he handled this has just been unbelievable.”

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

NYC Wants the Chancellor Fired. Now.

NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio and NYC Chancellor Richard Carranza
Well, now it seems that there is an official "Hands Off" policy which forbids anyone from investigating either the NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio or NYC Chancellor Richard Carranza, exactly as we wrote in our prior post. This block seems to be state-wide.

See:
NYC ALERT: Do Not Criticize Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza

This is alarming. Our tax dollars pay the salaries of these two ($$258,750 for Mayor De Blasio, and $ $345,000 goes to Chancellor Carranza every year). For photo opps just like the one at the top.

Richard Carranza spars with Rep. Grace Meng on Twitter: ‘No more politics’

What we have seen in the past few days is how broken the NYC public school community is. The Mayor needs to repair this, but we don't see any accountability by Carranza for causing any of it. That is unfortunate.
 
What I do not condone is belligerent, insulting and hysterical comments by anyone to anyone. So, if Carranza is not responding to parents calling him names and insulting him, I think he may have reason to ignore them. However we are looking at all of Carranza's actions, including hiring improper staff for high positions, allowing cheating and assaults of teachers and students without trying to put a stop to these events, and basically looking down at anyone who criticizes him. The total sum equals zero. He must go.

We urge the Mayor to fire Chancellor Carranza, and replace him immediately with a person who can heal the broken community of people in the New York City public school system, the biggest in the country. Please Bill, it's time.

Former NYC School Chancellors On Carranza Playing Race Card: ‘Put On Your Big Boy Pants’
January 29, 2020 at 11:15 pm

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Former city schools chancellors spoke out Wednesday about allegations by the current education czar that he’s been the subject of racial attacks as he tries to reform the school system.
Some told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer they’re stunned.
It has been a way of life since, well, pretty much forever — schools chancellors on the receiving end of the wrath of public school parents.
Cathie Black got skewered over proposed school closings. Carmen Farina was attacked over the Common Core English exam. So Richard Carranza is no exception, though he sure doesn’t seem to be weathering the storm as stoically as his predecessors.
“Just look at the abject racist things that are said about me: ‘Go back where I came from,’ ‘taco-eating Carranza,’ ‘fire Carranza Ai Yi Yi,’ with the exclamation points in Spanish. Absolutely, they’re racist,” Carranza said recently.
There have been nine full-time chancellors in the last 30 years. Six have been African-American and Latino. Kramer spoke to some of the former school bosses and they told her they were frankly stunned by Carranza’s attitude.
“Put on your big boy pants,” one former chancellor said.
“Playing the race card is [expletive], a cop out,” another said.
Carranza’s incendiary charges came in response to questions about why he walked out of a recent public meeting in Bayside, Queens, when emotional parents demanded answers about a number of disturbing incidents at their middle school, including a violent lunchtime brawl, a reported case of sexual harassment, and an alleged sexual assault in a bathroom.
“Walking out on the parents at the Queens school was dumb,” charged one of Carranza’s predecessors.
Carranza’s sulking over the ongoing criticism, his public pity party, had a predecessor offering advice.
“Don’t personalize things. You’re the chancellor of New York City schools. You should expect to be beat up. It’s New York City. You get paid to take it,” the former top educator said.
The chancellor’s ability to deal with public criticism and parent protest is expected to be challenged again Wednesday night. Sources told Kramer protests are scheduled before and during a meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, which Carranza is expected to attend.
NY POST Editorial Board, January 29, 2020

Carranza’s Failure -  The callous chancellor must go

Karol Markowicz, NY POST, January 27, 2020
 
Coward! Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza (c.) walking out of a town hall with parents outraged over violence in their children’s schools.

Betsy Combier
Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ blog
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

City blocked investigations of de Blasio, Richard Carranza: whistleblowers

by Susan Edelman, NY POST, November 23, 2019

Hands off.
An explosive whistleblower complaint sent to three city councilmen claims the agency charged with investigating wrongdoing in city schools has blocked probes of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and their allies, The Post has learned.
The Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI) for city schools is sitting on nine cases of waste, fraud and corruption involving the upper echelons of City Hall and the Department of Education, according to a type-written, four-page letter that catalogues the wrongdoing in detail.
One of cases cited involves first lady Chirlane McCray’s embattled $850 million mental health program, Thrive, which has a large school component.
The insider document blames Special Commissioner Anastasia Coleman, who was appointed in February 2018, after prevailing in a power struggle with former Department of Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters, an aggressive prober of the mayor’s administration and city agencies.
“Under Coleman, SCI is continuing to hold or redirect investigations into City Hall, Chancellor Richard Carranza and de Blasio allies with business or that are connected to the DOE to protect de Blasio’s image while he runs for president,” says the anonymous Aug. 20 letter signed by “SCI Investigative Staff.”
De Blasio dropped out of the presidential campaign on Sept. 20.
Other mothballed cases included a probe of possible mayoral interference in an investigation of Orthodox Jewish yeshivas that get city funds but skimp on required secular education; contract spending on de Blasio’s aborted “Renewal” program for failing schools; and allegations about Carranza and his top aides.
“SCI investigators assigned to investigations involving executives at the DOE and City Hall, including the Mayor, have been directed to instead focus on matters not related to the mayoral administration, his allies, etc,” the letter says.

SCI agents, it adds, “have been denied support in conducting these investigations and their independence in pursuing leads . . . that point towards City Hall and top-level executives at the DOE.”

In response, SCI said that Coleman “is aware of the anonymous complaint as well as its recipients,” adding that the letter was forwarded “to the appropriate agency for review” — referring to the city Department of Investigation.

Coleman denied the accusation her office has protected the powerful. The statement says, “the Commissioner added, unequivocally, that SCI has not, and will never, slow-walk an investigation based on the subject or the subject matter of the complaint.”

Jane Meyer, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said, “Any Implication that  City Hall directed SCI  to slow walk Investigations is untrue and ridiculous. We respect the Special Commissioner of Investigation’s independent authority.”
Coleman was at the center of a battle between City Hall and former DOI chief Peters. In February 2018, Peters tried to seize control of SCI. He fired Coleman after she reportedly resisted his attempts to have more say over SCI investigations. That led de Blasio to issue an executive order giving only the mayor power to hire or fire SCI commissioners.
The mayor canned Peters, a former close friend and campaign treasurer, in October 2018, after a series of damning DOI probes of city agencies, including major problems at the Administration for Children’s Services following a toddler’s death.

In a letter after his ouster, Peters accused Hizzoner of axing him in retribution for past probes and to stem ongoing investigations. Peters said the mayor had screamed at him in a late-night call, accused him of trying to bring his administration “down,” and demanded he keep the January 2017 ACS report under wraps.
The recent incriminating missive was sent to City Council members Ritchie Torres, chairman of the oversight and investigations committee; Mark Treyger, chairman of the education committee, and Robert Holden, who has called for a federal RICO investigation of academic fraud in city schools.
Holden said he forwarded the letter to the Queens District Attorney’s office, which is overseeing a probe of grade-fixing at Maspeth High School.
Both Torres and Treyger told The Post the letter raised red flags they have already recognized.
“The letter confirms what we’ve long known: The SCI, as constituted, appears fundamentally ineffective at overseeing the DOE,” Torres said. “The overseer needs oversight of its own.”
He added: “It’s strange that the DOE — the behemoth of city government — is subject to the least amount of oversight.”
The DOE’s $34 billion budget makes up about a third of all city spending.
Treyger agreed: “The largest department in the city of New York deserves a robust watchdog that can effectively do its job.”
Torres and Treyger have met with Coleman and stressed the need for SCI to conduct pro-active, systemic investigations of the DOE, and offered to help with funding if needed.
Since then, the  SCI issued a review of the DOE’s training to combat student-to-student sexual harassment. In September, SCI issued a blistering report finding that the DOE paid nearly $9 million for 6,000 school-bus GPS units while up to 80 percent were never turned on. The bungling also prevented the city from obtaining Medicaid reimbursements for special-ed services.
But the SCI has punted on academic misconduct. The agency received 880 complaints of test-tampering and grade fraud in the past three years, but sent 823 to the DOE to investigate itself. The DOE won’t give the results.
Naftuli Moster, executive director of YAFFEDJ.C. Rice
On the yeshiva issue, frustration has plagued Naftuli Moster, executive director of YAFFED, an advocacy group that triggered the DOE’s investigation in July 2015. Still waiting for the probe’s completion, Moster has long suspected the mayor’s office made DOE drag its feet to pander to Orthodox Jewish leaders.
“Now it appears the investigation into possible mayoral interference is also being stonewalled,” Moster said. “We need to get to the bottom of this.”
Torres complained that SCI has ignored big issues.
“The NYCHA inspector general had a leading role in exposing the lead crisis in public housing.  By contrast, SCI had no role at all in exposing the lead in city schools,” Torres said.
“SCI is MIA.”