City searches for chancellor to replace Carmen Fariña

Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina is stepping down from her post as the head of city schools, but who will replace her?
Courtesy of Mayor’s office/Edwin J. Torres
By Naeisha Rose

Whoever replaces Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who announced her retirement as the head of education in New York City before 2017 came to a close, will have a tough year ahead when it comes to helping failing schools thanks to President Trump’s tax bill. She will be stepping down once her replacement is chosen.

During Fariña’s tenure 14 schools were closed, including two from Queens, which were on the Renewal Schools list.

The Brian Piccolo Middle School (MS 53) located at 10-45 Naemoke St. in Far Rockaway and the Robert Vernam School (PS/MS 42) at 488 Beach 66th St. in Arverne were on the chopping block, according to the chancellor.

Shortly after Fariña’s resignation announcement, City & State, a policy and politics news site, said industry insiders in the education field have mentioned Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez as a possible candidate.

Rodríguez started his tenure as president of the CUNY School in 2014 and was the former secretary of the Dept. of Family Services for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (2006-2008), according to Queens College. He has a PhD in history from Columbia University and has taught at Yale, Northeastern University and City College.

Industry insiders have also circulated the name of Rudolph “Rudy” Crew, who was the former schools chancellor in the late ‘90s under the old New York City Board of Education system was also a viable candidate.

Crew has been the president of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn since 2013 and has worked as a educator in Florida, Oregon, Massachusetts, and California, according to the school. He is also the recipient of the NAACP Educational Leadership Award.

One of Charter School CEO Eva Moskowitz’s suggestions was David Steiner, the executive director for the Institute of Education Policy at John Hopkins and the former commissioner of the New York State Education Department (2009-2011).

As commissioner, Steiner headed the $700 million Race To The Top program, which redesigned the state’s standards in assessing students’ education and teacher certification requirements, according to Moskowitz.

“Mayor de Blasio and I have had profound disagreements about how best to educate our children,” Moskowitz said. “But we share the deep belief that we need the best possible person leading our schools.”

As Schools Chancellor, Fariña headed up the Renewal School program.

The Renewal Schools program received $500 million to help turn around low performing schools across the city, according to the Dept. of Education.

The program has seen mixed results, but some of the successes include August Martin High School, PS 111, Flushing High School and Martin Van Buren High School in Queens, the state DOE said.

These schools are no longer on the struggling schools’ list.

However, with Trump’s tax bill capping property taxes, which accounts for 45 percent of public school funding, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, it could get harder for whoever replaces Fariña to help struggling schools going forward. Renewal School Programs are funded with taxpayer money.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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