Teachers union President Michael Mulgrew gave Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s selection process for schools chancellor an early endorsement, saying he approves of most of the names rumored to be the short list.
“From the names that you all have been putting out there, they’re all educators,” Mulgrew told reporters at the union’s headquarters in lower Manhattan, which hosted an education event associated with the union-driven National Day of Action.
Education experience is a top priority for Mulgrew and the United Federation of Teachers, which has had a toxic relationship with the city education department in recent years. The three chancellors appointed under Mayor Bloomberg in the last 12 years had limited or no experience working in schools and all required a special waiver from the state as a result.
Mulgrew had glowing things to say about newest name to surface, Stanford University education researcher Linda Darling-Hammond, who quickly disputed a report that de Blasio had already offered her the job. Even as Darling-Hammond said she was never offered the position, Mulgrew said she’s a good person to consider.
“When you have someone of her caliber who is being considered, obviously that’s someone you would have to look at,” Mulgrew said.
Mulgrew also had good things to say for Carmen Farina, the city’s former to head of teaching and learning for the Department of Education.
“You’re talking about another person in education circles so highly regarded, especially here in New York City,” said Mulgrew.
He was more measured about Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the head of Chicago schools whose name has also been rumored for the job. He said he liked her work in in New York City more than a decade ago, but had concerns for her role in closing dozens of schools in Chicago to save costs.
Mulgrew said he’s been in touch with de Blasio’s transition team about the next chancellor, but that he’s taking a hands-off approach to their vetting.
“I said do your process,” Mulgrew said he told them. “I believe in letting people do their work.”
But he added that time is running out. “If they want to do this before they take office then they’re going to need to be getting close,” he said.