NYC schools chancellor to be named

Bill de Blasio (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Bill de Blasio (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A few weeks ago I reported that New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio would likely tap Carmen Farina, a close adviser who was a former deputy schools chancellor in New York City, to be the new chancellor of the largest school system in the country. Sources now say he will name her as chancellor as early as Monday.

Farina, a 70-year-old grandmother, worked in education for decades before retiring in 2006. She started as a teacher and principal, and then became a district and regional superintendent in the city’s school district. She also served as deputy chancellor for teaching and learning under the controversial former chancellor Joel Klein. When she stepped down from that post in 2006 because, she said, she wanted to spend more time with her family, Klein called her “beloved.”

The choice is a relatively safe one for de Blasio, who has in Farina a chancellor who is loyal and thought to be of the same reform mind — even if she did work for Klein, an architect of corporate-influenced school reform in the city that elevated standardized testing scores to be the chief accountability metric for students, teachers and schools.  During the mayoral campaign, de Blasio argued for a change in the reforms undertaken by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Klein, saying that there is too much standardized testing and the city has enough charter schools.

De Blasio had originally wanted Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond to be chancellor, though she did not want the job. (She denied being offered the job.)   Among the other people he considered were Kathleen Cashin, a member of the New York State Board of Regents and a former teacher and district superintendent; and Joshua Starr, Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent, who became nationally known when he called for a three-year moratorium on standardized testing last year.

Farina has in recent weeks spoken about her approach to education reform. At a November event, Crain’s New York Business reported Farina called for “collaboration, communication, capacity building, curriculum enhancement, celebration and efficiency,” what she called the “five Cs and an E.”  

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.

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Valerie Strauss · December 29, 2013

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