Accountability · NYC Schools · school diversity · School Integration

NYC Has a New School Chancellor: What This Change Means For Your Students

In June 2018, in a post entitled, What To Expect When You’re Expecting a New SHSAT Plan (Part #1): The Mayor’s Hidden Agenda, I wrote:

Unlike the SHSAT schools, the Mayor doesn’t need a vote in Albany to change admissions to Screened Schools. He could implement his 7 percent plan with the stroke of a pen. Try it out, do some genuine research, see what the results are, then take that hard evidence back to the State Senate. Facts! Science! Accountability! All those things we demand in other areas of our lives.

And yet, he hasn’t done that.

It almost makes one wonder whether de Blasio’s attempt to diversify SHSAT schools via holistic admissions is less about Black and Hispanic students, and more about another voting block. (Though I genuinely believe [Chancellor Richard] Carranza isn’t in on it.)

In June 2019, in a post entitled, Algebra in 8th Grade Is Good! Algebra in 8th Grade is Bad! Pick One, Mr. Chancellor, I wrote:

What does it mean when someone who has made Equity and Excellence the centerpiece of his education agenda — ahead of curriculum, teacher quality, academic standards, etc. – says that the way to achieve it is the exact opposite of what he espoused only a few years earlier?…. Chancellor Carranza has not changed his mind, but, like any political hack, he’s taking his marching orders from above and parroting the party line. 

Finally, in July 2020 (I didn’t see the annual pattern until now) and a post called, It’s Not a Plot, It’s Incompetence: Is the NYC Department of Ed Deliberately Undermining Some Schools?, I wrote:

Can those who, this past week, watched the Mayor and School Chancellor roll out a half-baked, detail deficient, unwieldy plan for reopening schools (that immediately prompted NY Governor Cuomo to remind that the final word is his, not theirs) say with a straight face that this is a pair clever and devious enough to deliberately sabotage their own system in the interest of overturning it?…. I only wish our leaders were this clever. Then I could have some faith in them. (An evil genius is still a genius, after all!) What we’re all living through isn’t a plot. It’s incompetence. That our kids are paying for.

What I’d been trying to say from the beginning was that Carranza never had any power. He was a dupe from the start.

He wasn’t even Mayor DeBlasio’s first choice for the job. Carranza was a last-minute fill in when the original candidate very publicly and embarrassingly changed his mind on live television. 

DeBlasio needed to save face and produce another Chancellor quickly. In retrospect, we can only imagine what he promised Carranza to get him to ditch his position in Houston after a mere 18 months, step up, and make it look like everything was under control in NYC education.

At the time, Carranza proclaimed that there was “no daylight between us” when talking about his and the Mayor’s vision for NYC’s public schools.

Carranza thought they were on exactly the same page when it came to equity, diversity and integration.

Carranza was played.

It’s obvious now that DeBlasio merely used Carranza as a combination whipping boy and litmus test. He had Carranza introduce various virtue signaling initiatives like getting rid of the SHSAT exam, unscreening all middle and high-schools, eliminating Gifted & Talented programs, opting out of state tests, lowering graduation requirements…. Then stood back and waited to see what the reaction would be.

If the (voting) public reacted positively, DeBlasio elbowed Carranza aside and accepted his due kudos for being such a progressive mayor and, soon, maybe President?

If the public reacted negatively, he ducked back, distanced himself from the Chancellor’s remarks, and proceeded to do nothing about issues he claimed to care so, so much about, while leaving Carranza to twist in the wind.

After three years of such shoddy treatment, Carranza had enough. (The Mayor’s instance on continuing G&T programs in 2021 despite the Panel for Education Policy voting down the testing contract was reportedly the last straw.)

So now there’s a new School Chancellor: Meisha Porter.

And my email box is full of questions from parents wondering what changes this will bring.

Mayor Bill DeBlasio fought tooth and nail to keep his Mayoral control of NYC schools. Richard Carranza’s truncated term proved that this Mayor’s Chancellor is nothing but a figurehead at best, a sacrificial lamb, at worst.

As the Mayor juggles parents who want schools open with parents who want more of a focus on remote learning, parents who demand state and Regents exams be administered and those who demand they be cancelled, anger over screening schools, anger over unscreening schools, and the inconvenient truth that, no matter how much he rearranges deck chairs on the Titanic, 50% of students are still not performing at grade level (and that’s pre-COVID), DeBlasio has made it clear that the buck stops with him. The only opinion that matters is his.

Ms. Porter’s role is to give him credit for everything that goes right and take the blame for anything that goes wrong.

Same as Mr. Carranza’s.

Which means nothing has changed at all.

What do you think?

More Comments