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A mix of hearty and wary congratulations pour in for Fariña

Reaction to mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s choice of Carmen Fariña as the city’s next schools chancellor has been swift and mostly supportive—some of it coming our way even before de Blasio’s official announcement this morning. Fariña, a former teacher, superintendent, and deputy chancellor, is earning praise for her understanding of the school system from many educators and progressive groups, and some congratulations-with-caveats from charter school backers and others who have aligned themselves with Mayor Bloomberg’s educational philosophies.

None of that is too surprising, given that the unions, charter school networks, and policymakers are likely eager to start what Fariña indicated could be a long relationship off on the right foot. We’ve rounded up some reactions below—if you’re willing to share your own, email us at tips @ gothamschools.org.

Welcoming words from union leadership

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew:

“Carmen is a real educator. She has a deep knowledge of schools and our system, and is on record criticizing Mayor Bloomberg’s focus on high stakes testing. We look forward to working with her to help make sure every child has access to an excellent education.”

Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernie Logan:

“CSA is delighted with Mayor-Elect Bill De Blasio’s decision to appoint Carmen Farina as schools chancellor. Carmen is universally recognized as one of the great educators in this city. Without a doubt, she is an educator’s educator — something that we have not had for 15 years. Carmen understands the need to restore the respect educators deserve. Her plan to reduce reliance on high-stakes testing at the expense of innovative instruction is a welcome change. Carmen’s commitment to working with parents and all community stakeholders will restore a sense of optimism and trust in our schools. We look forward to working with her and helping her as she guides our schools forward.”

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten:

Hearty endorsements from de Blasio’s educational allies

The Center for Arts Education Executive Director Eric Pryor:

“The Center for Arts Education commends Mayor-elect de Blasio on his outstanding choice of Carmen Farina as the next New York City Schools Chancellor. Ms. Farina has long displayed a strong and steadfast commitment to the education of New York City’s public school children.”

Education historian (and member of de Blasio’s Inaugural Committee) Diane Ravitch:

Alliance for Quality Education parent advocate (and transition team member) Zakiyah Ansari:

“Carmen Fariña is an excellent pick – she knows the New York City public school system inside-out and is an expert educator. She is ready-made to carry out Mayor-elect de Blasio’s mandate to take our schools in a new and successful direction. Chancellor Fariña faces tremendous challenges to turn the direction of school reform away from a failed corporate agenda, towards successful reforms focused on teaching and learning that engage parents, students and educators as full partners in the process– we believe she is up to the task.”

Ocynthia Williams of the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice (and a member of de Blasio’s Inaugural Committee):

“Carmen is a model educator and she puts the partnership between parents, teachers, students and communities at the center of all that she does. She has been a strong ally to CEJ and a proven advocate of parent engagement for years, dating back to her support of CC9’s Lead Teacher Program in the Bronx, when she was Deputy Chancellor of Teaching and Learning, and continuing after she left the DOE. CEJ believes we can give our children brighter futures by supporting quality schools grounded in strong neighborhoods and Carmen shares our vision. While this won’t be achieved without struggle, CEJ parents are looking forward to embarking on this new day in education together, with Chancellor Fariña!”

Wary congratulations from charter school backers

A limited endorsement from Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools:

“I know Carmen well and she is an educator who cares. The question is will she protect and expand public charter school options for families who need and are demanding them?”

New York City Charter School Center CEO James Merriman:

“Carmen Fariña has spent her entire career working to improve life outcomes for New York City students. Having overseen some of the city’s highest and lowest achieving public schools, she has seen first hand how the quality of the local schools impacts neighborhoods. In many of these very communities, charter schools have become a lifeline for families looking for a better education for their children. Like us, the new chancellor is dedicated to ensuring every child has a great public school option and we look forward to working together to make that a reality.”

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools President and CEO Nina Rees:

“We congratulate Ms. Farina on her appointment and look forward to working with her as she assumes this important role. New York City has the second highest number of students attending charter schools in the nation with more than 58,000 children enrolled last year. As Ms. Farina and Mayor-elect de Blasio develop their plans for NYC public schools, we encourage them to consider the vital role charter schools have played in increasing options and quality for students and families across the city. The rest of the country has always looked to NYC as an example of vibrant and successful charter schools and we hope that trend will continue.”

Northeast Charter Schools Network President Bill Phillips:

“Now is not the time to slow the city’s charter growth and deny choices to parents. If anything, charters and parental choices should be expanded as a way to give each child the opportunity to attend a great public school.

To serve all children, Farina must work with educators in the charter community to build upon their nationally recognized success. A city as great and diverse as New York City can and should have room for thriving district and charter schools.”

A full-throated congratulations from Explore Schools founder Morty Ballen:

“I have known Carmen for more than a decade and her values as an educator always struck me as aligned with ours at Explore Schools–parental access to great public school options; support, respect and a higher bar for teachers; and above all else, excellent instruction for children who are capable of so much more than many give them credit for. We are eager to share with her the lessons we’ve learned working with Central Brooklyn families to put all of New York City’s school children on the path to success.”

Varied reactions from other influential education figures

New Visions for Public Schools President Bob Hughes (who was seen as an early candidate for chancellor):

“Carmen Fariña is an extraordinary educator. No one understands the promise of early education better. Her appointment as schools chancellor reaffirms Mayor-elect de Blasio’s commitment to ensuring that New York City’s youngest students have access to quality education. New Visions for Public Schools looks forward to partnering with the new administration to support all of our public school teachers and leaders, and to ensure that equity of opportunity exists for every public school student in our great city.”

Fordham Institute Executive Vice President Mike Petrilli:

“From all accounts, Carmen Fariña appears to be a strong and well-respected leader. But if she forces her Teachers College progressivism on all of New York’s schools, it’s going to be a disaster for the city’s most disadvantaged children.”

Philanthropy New York President Ronna Brown:

“Carmen Fariña has a proven, serious track record in her approach to education reform. She knows the importance of cutting through the ideological clutter that so often surrounds education debates, and focusing on proven solutions. We look forward to working with her as she develops her own agenda, so that the Department of Education applies what has been learned over the past twelve years to its new reforms.

Our goal is to work with incoming Chancellor Fariña to align private and public dollars to build on what we know is working— and to do whatever it takes to ensure every student graduates from high school, ready to succeed in college or prepared for today’s workplace.”

Congratulations from city and state elected officials

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer:

“Carmen Farina is an inspired choice to lead the nation’s largest public school system. A nationally respected educator who has worked as a teacher, principal and school administrator, she will bring a renewed focus on classroom instruction, professional development and respect for children, parents and advocates to her new duties. I look forward to working with her and our highly dedicated public school teachers, as our City tackles the issues of improving college and career readiness rates and preparing more than one million students to compete in a 21st century economy.”

City Council member Mark Weprin:

City Council member Brad Lander:

City Council member Daniel Dromm:

New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat:

New York State Assembly member Nily Rozic:

Excitement from some New York City educators

And well wishes from her predecessor

Outgoing Chancellor Dennis Walcott:

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to focus on the futures of one million students each and every day. When I reflect on the last 12 years—the remarkable progress made, the enormous obstacles overcome, and the incredibly high goals set and met—I think about the children who will be better adults tomorrow because of our efforts today. We have worked passionately on their behalf, and I’m grateful to have been able to change the trajectory of so many lives during our tenure.

Mayor-elect de Blasio is someone who cares deeply about public education, and I want to congratulate Carmen Fariña on being named Chancellor. I have known Carmen for many years, and she is a deeply committed educator with a true passion for improving our schools. I wish her well.”

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