By all accounts, Mayor Bill de Blasio got it right this week when he tapped Richard Carranza to take the reins from Carmen Fariña and lead the country’s largest public-school system through the rest of Hizzoner’s second term.
However, keep in mind that de Blasio originally presented the final rose to Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho in “The Bachelor: New York City Schools Chancellor Edition.” Carvalho accepted the gig. His new boss even officially declared last Wednesday that indeed Carvalho would succeed Fariña at the old Tweed Courthouse building.
Then Thursday happened.
In a bewildering, bridge-burning heel turn that must have had WWE producers salivating, Carvalho reneged on the handshake pact with the mayor. He changed his mind during a televised meeting with the Miami-Dade County School Board.
“Carvalho said the promise he had made to the children of Miami was more important than his agreement with de Blasio’s administration,” according to HuffPost.
So a red-faced de Blasio and his selection squad scrambled to secure the next schools chancellor.
Enter: Richard Carranza.
He seems to have everything: the teacher’s identity, proven leadership-in-crisis chops (led the effort to re-open Houston schools after Hurricane Harvey), the American Dream backstory (grandson of Mexican immigrants; son of a journeyman sheet metal worker and hairdresser from an Arizona barrio)—he’s even an accomplished mariachi musician.
“Now, Richard, I didn’t say this to you before, but I’m going to give you the highest compliment I could possibly give you, because the person in my life who went through that exact same experience was my mother, Maria. And she was the child of immigrants, but she was born here, but never spoke English until she walked into a school building for the first time, and she turned out pretty good,” de Blasio said to Carranza at City Hall on Monday. “So, I have a special feeling for English-language learners, but what’s so beautiful about Richard’s story is from the moment he started to experience our public schools – in this case, in Tucson – he blossomed, he was off to a great, great future.”
So he has the experience and the skills. On paper, he’s qualified to lead more than a million kids in the City school system.
But what we need to know, Mr. Carranza, is what will you do for the 300,000 kids in Queens?
Because, right now, World’s Borough public schools, and the kids that attend them, don’t seem to be a priority for some elected leaders.
In her State of the Borough address in January, Borough President Melinda Katz laid out the numbers for all of us to see—and be embarrassed. When it comes to education, we are the most overcrowded, and the most underfunded, borough in the city. While most other boroughs are below capacity, Katz pointed out that Queens schools as a whole exceed capacity at 108 percent, with 116 percent capacity at its elementary schools and 113 percent capacity in its high schools. Queens, however, also receives the lowest amount of funding per pupil than every other borough.
And yet our kids thrive. Queens experienced the largest improvement in high school graduation and dropout rates over the past two years, according to City records. Last year, the graduation rate in borough public high schools jumped to 77.8 percent, from 76.1 percent in 2016. And the dropout rate in 2017 dropped to 6.4 percent, from 7.7 percent in 2016.
Congratulations, Schools Chancellor Carranza. While you may have been the mayor’s second pick, please make Queens kids your first priority.


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