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NYC schools chancellor promises to ‘lead from a sense of equity’ during first meeting with teachers

Educators express excitement for Carmen Fariña’s replacement.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, left,

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, new schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, center, and first lady Chirlane McCray exit Katz's Delicatessen in Manhattan on April 2. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The new Department of Education Chancellor Richard A. Carranza is a real New Yorker now: he didn’t even use an umbrella in the snow on his first official day on the job Monday.

Carranza joked about that Tuesday to an auditorium full of teachers — and, on a more serious note, promised he was one of them.

“My people: teachers,” he greeted the hundreds gathered in the auditorium of Stuyvesant High School, who were in the school for professional training during spring break. “The one unalienable truth that I have found in my experience is that if we do not lead from a sense of equity and we do not lead from the sense of protecting the rights of our students and lifting our students, then who will?”

Carranza, who had lunch with Mayor Bill de Blasio at Katz’s Delicatessen on Monday, was most recently the superintendent of the Houston Independent School District and took over the Big Apple job from Carmen Fariña, the schools chief since de Blasio took office in 2014. He started his career in Tucson, Arizona, as a high school, bilingual social studies and music teacher. He is fluent in Spanish and plays mariachi music, according to the DOE.

De Blasio said he was looking for “someone who believed in equity in his core” during his search to find the next schools chancellor.

“I knew we needed a chancellor who believed that much greater things were possible,” he said. “I knew we needed a chancellor who had urgency running through him.”

Carranza “knows how to stand and fight for our children,” the mayor said.

But Carranza wasn’t de Blasio’s first choice to replace Fariña. Last month, Alberto M. Carvalho, the superintendent of the Miami-Dade County school district, announced abruptly on live television that he would not accept the mayor’s job offer a week after accepting it.

Still, teachers at Tuesday’s gathering were hopeful that Carranza would be good for the city’s 1.1 million students.

“It’s great to have a teacher in the position who seems really excited to support teacher and teacher initiatives,” said Marissa Maggio, 40, a Stuyvesant biology teacher. “Whenever somebody new comes in, it’s nice to know they’re there to support you. I’m excited for what he said and what the future will bring.”

Maryse Crevecoeur, 51, who runs a special reading program at P.S. 6 in Brooklyn, said she hopes Carranza continues to build on what Fariña accomplished.

“He knows there’s nothing to fix, there’s something to continue,” she said. “He has enough experience. I’m pretty excited to see what he’s going to bring to the table for us.”

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