|Richard Carranza welcomed Middle School students to their first day of in-person classes at the One World Middle School|
in the Bronx on October 1, 2020. (Theodore Parisienne/for New York Daily News)
NYC schools head Richard Carranza exits, to be replaced by Meisha Ross Porter, the first Black woman to lead system
The resignation of Richard Carranza as NYC Chancellor will not change anything. The Department of Education needs an entire overhaul of the leadership, as well as an extremely deep investigation into the DOE's procurement procedures and payments out for the past 20 years.
We need to clean up the fraud of education policy in New York City.
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NYC schools head Richard Carranza resigns, Meisha Porter to become system’s first Black woman chancellor
He will be replaced by Meisha Porter, who currently serves as executive superintendent for the Bronx. Porter will become the first Black woman chancellor of the nation’s largest public school system.
|Meisha Ross Porter (NYC Dept. of Education)|
A year later, roughly 250,000 of the city’s nearly million public school students are attending in-person classes.
City officials say Carranza is stepping aside on his own accord and doesn’t have a new position lined up. The schools' chief has suffered a brutal personal toll from the coronavirus, losing multiple family members to the illness, he’s said on multiple occasions in recent months.
“It has been my greatest honor to serve as New York City Schools Chancellor and I can’t think of anyone who would be better to take the helm than Meisha Porter,” Carranza said in a statement.
New mayors typically install their own chancellors, and all of the city’s Democratic mayoral contenders confirmed at a recent forum they would likely replace Carranza.
Carranza’s arrival in New York City three years ago followed a shocking about-face from Mayor de Blasio’s first choice for the position, Alberto Carvalho, who changed his mind about taking the post on live television.
Carranza, a former superintendent of the San Francisco and Houston school systems, kicked off his tenure on a jovial note.
The Arizona native and accomplished Mariachi musician gleefully told reporters at his introductory press conference “if I am asked to sing chances are I’m gonna sing. If I’m asked to play, chances are I’m gonna play. And if I’m not asked to sing or play, chances are I’m gonna sing and play!”
Carranza, true to his word, was never shy about vocalizing.
He kicked up long-simmering questions about segregation and race in city schools in a single tweet month into his tenure, posting a story that characterized the complaints of white parents at a meeting on school rezoning as “angrily rant[ing] against the plan to bring more black kids to their school.”
Carranza went on to explicitly denounce the policy of screening students for admission to public schools and call for an end to the exam that controls entry to the city’s specialized high schools.
His policy approaches to those issues, however, were much more muted. A plan to end the specialized high school exam stalled in Albany and rollback of admissions screens is proceeding piecemeal, rather than system-wide.
Carranza’s rhetoric on race and within the Education Department won fervent support from educators and parents who felt he gave voice to deeply embedded inequities.
It also sparked significant pushback from detractors who felt his sharp rhetoric and zeal to alter admissions policies and curriculum demonized white educators and unfairly punished Asian-American students.
Officials also pointed to a rising graduation rate under Carranza’s tenure and the city’s official adoption of culturally responsive education, a practice that seeks to incorporate kids’ identities and backgrounds into their curriculum.
In recent weeks, Carranza has voiced his opposition to the practice of testing 4-year-old children for the city’s Gifted and Talented program, and this week encouraged parents to exercise their right to opt-out of standardized tests this spring.
Carranza and de Blasio heaped praise on his successor in Friday statements.
“Today is a historic day for New York City schools. Meisha Porter is a homegrown New Yorker who knows what it takes to give every kid the high-quality public school education they deserve,” said Mayor de Blasio.
Porter grew up and attended public schools in Queens, served as a teacher and principal for 18 years at the Bronc School for Law, Government, and Justice, and became superintendent of the Bronx’s District 11.
She took over in 2018 as the Bronx’s Executive Superintendent — a role that Carranza created to add an additional level of supervision over district school chiefs. Graduation rates in the Bronx rose from 67% in 2018 to 73% last year, officials said.
“As a lifelong New Yorker, a product of our City’s public schools, and a career educator, it is the honor of my lifetime to serve as Chancellor,” said Porter. “Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza have laid an incredible foundation for me and I am ready to hit the ground running and lead New York City schools to a full recovery.”
After three years leading the DOE, I will be stepping down as Chancellor in March.
I am full of mixed emotions to leave the DOE family. It has been the honor of my career to serve you, and help your child’s school and our whole system get closer to reaching its full potential. The strength and resilience of your children—our 1 million students—is awe-inspiring. It is what drove me through this unprecedented crisis, and it is what I take with me as I leave this post. The commitment and support you have shown to your children, and to your school communities, is incredible.
Throughout my career, my guiding light has been the belief that public education is the most powerful equalizer for children. Public education anchors communities. Public education makes it possible for a child who is poor, or who lives in temporary housing, or—in my own case—who doesn’t speak English when they enter the public school system to develop their dreams, and then to chase them. Truly, it is public education that expresses the highest ideals of our democracy. My time in New York City has only strengthened this belief, as I have seen it play out time and again, in schools all across the boroughs.
And together, we have seen proof. Our seniors kept breaking their own records as graduation rates and college enrollment kept rising higher, and the dropout rate kept getting lower.
We also made true progress in dismantling the structures and policies that are the products of decades of entrenched racism in the city and country. We have worked to undo segregation and turn “equity” from an esoteric concept to a reality. Every school that no longer screens children for admission, and every district that uses DOE resources to create more space for low-income students, or English language learners, is making this mission real.
We finally brought the mental health of our children into the spotlight and made it a major priority so that every child can feel welcomed, comfortable, and safe in their classroom and school community—especially now, when so many of our students are dealing with unforeseeable trauma.
And, of course, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we transformed the nation’s largest school system overnight in order to protect the health of our students, staff, families, and communities. We have reinvented what it means to teach and learn in New York City public schools.
All throughout, I have been proud to prioritize what’s best for kids over what’s politically popular. I have never been afraid of hard conversations. I have always believed that we need to set a high bar for every student—and then do what it takes to help them meet it.
You, your children, and the dedicated staff who serve you deserve both continuity and courageous leadership from your next Chancellor. You need someone who knows firsthand the reality on the ground at our schools and has the talent and leadership to finish the school year out strong and drive towards bringing every child back to buildings in September.
That is why I am so proud that one of the most important leaders in this work will take on the privilege and responsibility of being your next Chancellor: Meisha Porter.
Meisha is a 20-year veteran of New York City public schools and currently serves as Bronx Executive Superintendent. In this role, she leads community school districts 7-12, covering the entire borough and its 361 schools and 235,000 students. She is a lifelong New Yorker and product of our public schools who first joined the Department of Education as a teacher at the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice—a school she helped conceive. After 18 years at the school, where she became Principal, Meisha spent three years as Superintendent of District 11, serving the Pelham Parkway, Eastchester, and Woodlawn neighborhoods of the Bronx. She has been Executive Superintendent since 2018, and in that time, the students of the Bronx have achieved significant academic gains, and schools have gotten stronger and stronger.
More than anything, I am proud to have served you and so proud of the strides we have made. I don’t know what’s next for me, but I know I will take the spirit and richness of New York City with me anywhere and everywhere I go.
It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as your Chancellor. I am grateful to each and every one of you.