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Chancellor Fariña

December 30, 2013 pm31 1:44 pm

Fariña’s selection alone sets a better tone.  We can expect a different kind of conversation with, for the first time in ages, educators leading both the school system and the teachers union. And tone helps. But Bloomberg did a lot of damage. Where will Fariña start?

Since before de Blasio’s election there has been speculation about who he might choose to lead the NYC school system. Names, ridiculous, serious, evil, laughable, all floated together. And now, two days away from inauguration, Bill de Blasio is naming Carmen Fariña Chancellor. There will be lots of excitement and speculation and what does she stand for and what does she stand against, etc. etc.

But for us teachers, the Chancellor is someone who makes decisions, who we sometimes agree with, and sometimes disagree with. Part of our work will be discussing with our new Chancellor, and part will be arguing against the Chancellor. And that would have been true whomever was chosen. The Chancellor is the schools’ Chancellor, the Mayor’s Chancellor, not the union’s or the teachers’ or the parents’. We want someone we can work through disagreements with…

In the current national context there will be outside pressure on NYC about testing and evaluation, and about curriculum. We are not an island (well… you know). And so, a month ago, I made a list of experiences and characteristics we would hope to see in a Chancellor (but not a list of political/pedagogical positions). I reasoned that we would work best with and argue most effectively with a Chancellor who spoke our language and shared at least some of our experiences.

There are a handful of people who would have checked all the boxes. Didn’t mean we would love them. We wouldn’t. Be we would be able to work with them. And Fariña checked all the boxes:

  • My list:  10 years teacher. (Would be nice if the person had some time with extra responsibility before becoming a principal). 10 years principal. Public school. NYC. Not TfA. Not an anti-public-school-reformer. No one who has done grave harm to our schools.
  • Fariña: 22 years teacher, (five years district curriculum coordinator), 10 years principal. Superintendent. Deputy Chancellor. All in NYC Public Schools. Not TfA. Not a testing/reformer. And while I would consider parts of her record mixed, there’s a lot of positive in it, and she certainly did not do grave harm to the system, even while she worked directly under Joel Klein.

Last week I wrote:

I expect that teachers will not fall in love with the next Chancellor. I expect she will do a lot of things we don’t like. But I also expect she won’t be hated, and that she won’t pursue massively harmful reform strategies. And I hope that she will undo all of the Bloomberg destructive policies. And I expect that she will undo at least a few of them.

Fariña’s selection alone sets a better tone.  We can expect a different kind of conversation with, for the first time in ages, educators leading both the school system and the teachers union. And tone helps. But Bloomberg did a lot of damage. Where will Fariña start?

Look at structure of the system. Look at curriculum. Look for some de-emphasis of testing. Look at hiring and how excessed teachers are treated. Look for school closings to stop. And look for new colocations to stop. Look for Progress Reports and Quality reviews to be ended or modified and reduced. Look for scores of lawyers and non-educators to be given the opportunity to find gainful employment somewhere else. Look for a housecleaning of high-ranking TfAers and other anti-public-school-reformers. Look for high school admissions, and kindergarten admissions to be remade. Look, over time, for some undoing of noxious changes to chancellors regs. Really, look for everything.

Watch carefully: which Bloomberg damage is undone in the first month?  Which Bloomberg damage is fixed by next September?

We should look for progress, and we will find it. We should push for undoing all of Bloomberg’s damage. There will be conversations.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. fsmedu permalink
    December 30, 2013 pm31 7:57 pm 7:57 pm

    Hi JD2718,

    I agreed, “Farina’s selection alone sets a better tone.” For, Klein, Black and Walcott sought for a waiver for the lack of training as schools administrator from the NYS department of education in order to become NYC public schools chancellor, while Carmen Farina is a certified school administrator with a 40-year education record in the New York public school system as teacher, principal superintendent and deputy chancellor.

    Within the next hundred days we will definitely find out what the future holds for teachers, parents, students and others; as far as chancellor Farina is concerned. For the time being what is emerging in the media is a vaguely tentative Farina’s progressive agenda: Communication, Collaboration, Capacity, and Curriculum…Efficiency…

    As educator, I am eager to see how the progressive agenda will play out and until then like you, JD2718, I am hopeful. So far so good

    FSMEDU

  2. December 31, 2013 pm31 4:05 pm 4:05 pm

    Re Farina…set of urgent policy questions by Patrick Wall and Philissa Cramer,12/30/13 Gothamschools

    The challenges to the de Blasio’s progressive agenda and Chancellor Farina

    What is up-and-coming from the media and in particular the New York Times(1) and Capital New York(2) and New York Post (3) is that de Blasio does not have the power to stop the grow of charter schools developing outside city school building .Yes he can charge rent in existing city-based schools.

    The testing practice from federal and state mandates will continue since those tests are entrenched into laws. The imperative then is to “improve teaching and learning so all children master the content on these tests.”(3)

    “The final challenge is not to allow anti-testing rhetoric to rule the day. It is
    critical to know whether children are reading, writing and doing math at grade
    level. We know today that most children cannot. The answer is not to do away
    with the tests or the stakes associated with them. The answer is to improve
    teaching and learning so all children master the content on these tests.”
    (3), as said by the post.

    Of course, he can stop the few city-mandated tests as well as the grading of the schools from A-D but there will not be any system replacing what will no longer be.

    Closing schools will stop and we can expect the pairing of failing schools and successful schools with comparable student bodies for working collaboratively as to achieve desirable goals.

    If schools will close only after comprehensive intervention plan failed to rescue them, then what do we do with the current pool of ATRs? Will Tweed continue to mismanage its professionals as in the last 12 years?

    Labor unions must have contracts which may cost $ 3 billion,depending upon which newspapers you read.

    Gov. Cuomo is receptive to the preschool education initiative and is ready to fund it not from raising taxes as suggested by de Blasio rather via other means. Preschool education is a done deal.

    The disquieting phase of the de Blasio administration is that the Tweed bureaucrats of the Bloomberg era are still there and Farina is saying that she is not in a worry to replace them.

    Will the superintendents regain their powers the way it used to be? There has been no answer to that question yet.

    Will the system of network be involved in staff developments as the high school division used to do it or will something else pop up to handle staff developments and else for the system?

    The 4c -Communication, Collaboration, Curriculum and Capacity – epitomizing the core of the progressive agenda in New York City education should be defined and/or outlined for clarity to all straight away.

    “De Blasio and Farina should call a school reform truce” stated Charles Sahm in the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS of 12/31/13.(4)

    Why is it nobody ever called for a school reform truce when Bloomberg and Klein or Bloomberg and Walcott were in charge of NYC DOE?

    FSMEDU/EDRFORUM
    12/31/13

    References
    1. Source URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/31/nyregion/de-blasio-names-veteran-city-educator-to-lead-schools.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&nl=nyregion&emc=edit_ur_20131231&pagewanted=print

    2 Source URL: http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2013/12/8538051/farintildea-heralds-sharp-shift-bloomberg?top-featured-image

    3. http://nypost.com/2013/12/30/the-toughest-job-running-nycs-schools/

    4.http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/de-blasio-farina-call-school-reform-truce-article-1.1561787

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