The list of names that New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has considered for chancellor of the country’s largest school district has been long, but it appears that he has settled on one — at least for now.
Knowledgeable sources say that de Blasio is likely next week to name Carmen Farina, a close adviser who was a former deputy schools chancellor in New York City, to take over the job of running the schools, perhaps in an interim capacity. A decision to tap her as interim would be aimed at giving him time to have a longer search that includes public input.
The naming of a schools chancellor is always difficult, but this choice is especially tricky because de Blasio during his campaign took positions against many of the school reforms pursued under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. De Blasio said, for example, that the city doesn’t need any more charter schools; he also said that an obsession with standardized testing was “poisoning our system.”
Farina worked in education for decades, starting as a teacher and principal before becoming a district and regional superintendent. She also served as deputy chancellor for teaching and learning under former chancellor Joel Klein, who called her “beloved” when she stepped down in 2006, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family. She was well-respected as an educator, though she had differences with some teachers about what they said was micromanaging of reading instruction when she was deputy chancellor.
De Blasio has talked with and/or considered a number of candidates, including Kathleen Cashin, a member of the New York State Board of Regents and a former teacher and district superintendent; Joshua Starr, Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent, who maintains good relations with the teachers union and who became nationally known when he called for a three-year moratorium on standardized testing last year; Andrés Alonso, the former chief executive officer of Baltimore City schools who resigned last summer after six years and who succeeded Farina as deputy chancellor in New York before going to Baltimore; D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson; and Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett.
Henderson released a statement Friday saying that she had no plans to leave Washington, D.C., but was honored to be considered by de Blasio.