2014-01-17 / Community

Principals Say Yes to New Chancellor

By Katie McFadden

It’s out with the old and in with the new as the New Year kicks off in New York City. Bill de Blasio was sworn in as the city’s new mayor and he brings with him the newly appointed Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who local educators say is a good choice.

De Blasio announced his appointment of Fariña as Schools Chancellor on December 30th, making her the replacement for Dennis Walcott. Fariña is no stranger to New York City public schools. She brings 40 years of experience to the table. She started her career as a teacher at P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill for 22 years and worked her way up to principal of P.S. 6 in Manhattan. Under her leadership, P.S. 6 jumped from number 76 to one of the top 10 schools citywide in both reading and math.

Fariña became superintendent of Brooklyn’s District 15 before rising to Regional Superintendent of Region 8. She was then named Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning in 2004 and has been a vocal advocate for comprehensive early education and parental involvement in school policy.

“Carmen won’t just be my chancellor as mayor; she’ll be my chancellor as a public school parent. For years, I’ve watched her innovate new ways to reach students, transform troubled schools and fight against wrongheaded policies that hurt our kids. Carmen has worked at nearly every level of this school system. She knows our students, teachers, principals and parents better than anyone, and she will deliver progressive change in our schools that lifts up children in every neighborhood,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press release.

Local school principals also say Fariña is a great choice for Schools Chancellor. “As a former teacher, principal, and deputy chancellor, Ms. Fariña knows firsthand the needs of our students as well as the challenges educators combat on a daily basis to provide each student with a quality education,” Shawn Rux, the principal of M.S. 53 in Far Rockaway said. “I look forward to being a part of her upcoming innovative changes and working with her to continue closing the achievement gap.”

“My professional and personal interactions with Carmen Fariña over the years give me great confidence in the future of our school system with Chancellor Fariña at its helm,” Brian O’Connell, the principal of Scholars’Academy in Rockaway Park said. “Chancellor Fariña is a life-long educator who understands how education policies impact individual children, parents, school staff, and neighborhoods. Chancellor Farina’s expertise, experience, and embracing demeanor will have a significant and positive impact upon our school system throughout all New York City communities.”

De Blasio says he’ll work with Fariña on his commitment to working with parents as partners in education, establishing universal pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds and after-school programs for middle schoolers, and prioritizing college and career readiness over high-stakes testing.

Fariña chose Ursulina Ramirez as her Chief of Staff. Ramirez is a former social worker and Deputy Public Advocate.

One of Fariña’s first local challenges is the troubled P.S. 106 in Far Rockaway. A recent New York Post article claims that the students lack updated math and reading books and watch movies instead of attending gym, art or music classes. Meanwhile the principal, Marcella Sills has reportedly been missing in action and also forces students to pay for and attend a lavish party every year.

As a response, Fariña sent Deputy Chancellor Dorita Gibson to investigate the claims. Gibson will release a report on her findings and will make recommendations to the school.

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