Carmen Fariña, former Brooklyn district superintendent, to head city schools

December 30, 2013 Helen Klein
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Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has tapped Carmen Fariña, a veteran educator and education administrator in South Brooklyn, who most recently served in the Department of Education as a deputy chancellor, to be the next schools chancellor.

De Blasio made the announcement on Monday, December 30, noting, “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,” he said. “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.”

In naming Fariña to the post, de Blasio has reached back to his earliest years of public service to select someone with whom he previously worked. While de Blasio served on the school board for Community School District 15 – which covers Red Hook, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and portions of Sunset Park – Fariña was superintendent of the district, where she taught in her earliest years as an educator, beginning her career in P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill, where she launched her collaborative approach that has been her signature throughout her four-decade-long career

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“True change happens not through mandates and top-down decision making but through communication, collaboration and celebrating the successes along the way,” said Fariña. “Raising the success rate of our students is the only goal. I anticipate the entire city will aid us on this effort.”

Local legislators applauded the selection.

“Families and educators from Park Slope to Red Hook revere Carmen for what she did to make our diverse schools great. She healed divisions, cultivated countless great teachers and principals, and transformed our schools into some of the most successful, creative, and inclusive in the city,” said Councilmember Brad Lander, who followed de Blasio in representing the 39th Council District.

State Senator Simcha Felder concurred, calling Fariña, “an important advocate for students and parents throughout the New York City public school system.”

Carlo Scissura, president/CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, agreed, noting that during his time as president of Community Education Council/District 20, he grew to know Fariña as someone with “the experience, leadership and vision to lead the Department of Education under Mayor Bill de Blasio. She understands both the needs of teachers and students and – as she has demonstrated in the past – will work tirelessly to serve them both very well.”

The NYC Parents Union (NYCPU) expressed cautious optimism at Fariña’s appointment, welcoming her years of experience.

That said, NYCPU President Mona Davids said, “We hope parents remain vigilant in their demands to have a seat at the education policy table and that Chancellor Farina respects all parents as the real stakeholders in our children’s education.  . . We hope Chancellor Farina will always be a strong advocate for parent rights, Early Intervention Programs, students with special needs and English Language Learners — always putting children first before adult interests.”

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