When Richard Carranza was the School Chancellor of New York City (April 2, 2018 – March 15, 2021), his repeatedly stated goal was to provide the exact same education to every single public school student in grades Pre-K through 12. That’s equity, his key professed value.
He unveiled Algebra… For All! (Despite having advocated the exact opposite in San Francisco).
He attempted to eliminate Gifted & Talented programming, screened middle schools, and Specialized High Schools on the grounds that they were not available… for all. His insistence on a uniform education triggered fears that he’d go after Dual Language programs next, or even Hunter College Elementary and High School (which isn’t even under his jurisdiction).
That’s why it came as such a surprise (well, not really, we all saw it coming, but let’s play along and pretend) when, merely two weeks after stepping down as Chancellor to mourn the Covid deaths of 11 relatives and close childhood friends, Carranza accepted a new, private sector job as Chief of Strategy and Global Development at IXL Learning.
What does IXL Learning do?
According to their website:
Using insights from the Real-Time Diagnostic, IXL creates a personalized action plan for each student. With these recommended skills, you have a simple way to differentiate instruction, fill individual knowledge gaps, and facilitate meaningful progress. Students’ results and action plans stay updated with just a handful of diagnostic questions each week. This means diagnostic data is there when you need it: at the start of the school year, at the end of the year, or anywhere in between. For students, the Real-Time Diagnostic doesn’t feel like a traditional test! The questions are engaging, and it’s a safe space for students to learn more about themselves and take an active role in their learning.
One of the last things Chancellor Carranza did before stepping down, was to urge families to opt out of the federally mandated state testing.
Carranza when asked what sort of state tests would be feasible at this point in NYC: "As an educator I would say to parents, there is an opt out. And if there is ever a time to consider whether that opt out makes sense for you, this is the time."https://t.co/aYgxy81EiH— Retiree Advocate/UFT (@RetireeAdvocUFT) February 25, 2021
Like many of the educators we profiled last week, Carranza did not believe that any learning loss had taken place, that, even if it did, it did not need to be measured and, even if it did need to be measured, that measuring should be done by individual teachers in their classrooms, not in any standardized way. (Despite such an approach having been shown to disadvantage students of color.)
Let’s be clear: Richard Carranza was not hired to be the Chief of Strategy and Global Development at IXL Learning because he brings a wealth of previous Chief of Strategy and Global Development experience to the table.
What Richard Carranza brings to the IXL Learning table is a wealth of contacts and people who owe him favors in the Departments of Education in New York City, San Francisco, and even Houston, where he served a mere 18 months before quitting and striking out for greener pastures.
Richard Carranza’s job as Chief of Strategy and Global Development at IXL Learning will be to strategically develop school districts that will purchase IXL Learning’s products and compel them into use at every public school. (Hey, remember how the 2021 Student Achievement Plan released back in December 2020 included “Increasing high quality digital curriculum available for every single school” and “Launching a one-stop digital learning hub?” Hmm… wonder what ed tech company will score that overpriced government contract?)
At the moment, only about 1 in 5 NYC students use IXL Learning. Expect that number to go way, way up shortly.
This is the given thing.
But it does not have to be a bad thing.
As we’ve written before, the reason most parents seek out G&T programs, or Screened and Specialized high schools is not because they believe their children are geniuses, but because they know their children can do work beyond what’s offered in a standard NYC classroom.
Integration activists claim that separating students by ability hurts both high and low performers. The research on that is decidedly mixed.
Richard Carranza took office promising to improve NYC education for all by making all schools exactly the same.
He failed miserably on both counts.
So how hilarious would it be if it were as Chief of Strategy and Global Development at IXL Learning that he ended up doing the most good?
It’s inevitable that IXL Learning’s personalized programs will be popping up in many, many more NYC classrooms come September. If they can actually deliver on what they promise (that’s a big if, but let’s play along and pretend) there will be no need for families to leave their zoned schools (and take their share of school funding with them) for G&T programs in other schools if their child can receive exactly the customized education they need closer to home. There will be no need for 11 year olds to take a 40 minute bus ride across town for a middle school offering instruction at their level, or 30,000 students to battle it out for only 5000 Specialized High School seats.
Every child will be able to get precisely the education that they are ready for at their local school, advancing the cause of integration and educational equity all in one fell swoop.
Richard Carranza will have finally accomplished his objectives! Albeit in a manner the exact opposite of what he once espoused (like his two-faced stance on Algebra).
And at a much higher salary.
It’s win-win for all!
What do you think?