In a decision that reveals a sharp split from Mayor Bloomberg’s education policies, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio appointed Carmen Fariña on Monday to lead New York City’s public schools. Fariña, a veteran teacher in the city’s school system, was named deputy chancellor of schools by Bloomberg in 2004, but left the position after two years due to disagreements with Bloomberg’s testing-heavy policies. Now Fariña will have the chance to implement her own desired reforms.
The decision follows a string of remarks by de Blasio intimating his displeasure with Bloomberg’s public school reforms, which included frequent standardized testing, teacher evaluations, and the shuttering of underperforming schools. The Mayor-elect has also cast doubt on the expansion of charter schools, a lynchpin of Bloomberg’s education policy. Although de Blasio has been careful to avoid pillorying Bloomberg’s tactics, he has suggested a change in course, stating that “we cannot continue to be a city where educational opportunity is predetermined by ZIP code.”
As chancellor, Fariña’s decisions will have an impact on over 1.1 million students in New York City public schools. No matter how successful her reforms, Fariña is likely to enjoy a more positive legacy than ex-chancellor Cathleen Black, whose disastrous 95-day tenure is still remembered as one of Bloomberg’s biggest blunders.