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Here’s how the New York City education world is responding to Carmen Fariña’s (re-)retirement

Carmen Fariña talks to members of the city's pre-K enrollment outreach team in 2015.
Carmen Fariña talks to members of the city's pre-K enrollment outreach team in 2015.
Patrick Wall

Even before New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña officially announced her impending resignation, reaction from all corners of the city’s education world began to pour in.

Advocacy groups and individuals highlighted both Fariña’s reputation as a champion for educators and the challenges of her tenure. We’re rounding up their statements here and will continue to update as we hear more. In the meantime, please share your own reaction in the comments.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew sent out this statement nearly a day after the news first broke:

Carmen has a lot to be proud of during her tenure. Her decades of experience in the system gave her a deep understanding of how our schools work. She managed the historic introduction of universal pre-k and oversaw significant gains in student achievement from test scores to high school graduation rates. We wish her well.

Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Mark Cannizzaro thanked Fariña for her “willingness to listen.”

Our members have always respected her professionally and personally. She is not only a talented educator but also a compassionate person who truly cares for the well-being of our students. Her energy is impressive and her list of accomplishments is amazing. She and her family should be incredibly proud of all she has done for students, educators and New York City. We thank her for her service, her partnership and her willingness to listen.

Educators for Excellence, a group that aims to involve teachers in policy making, sent out two reactions, one from a founder and CEO and another from a current teacher. From Olinka Crusoe, English as a New Language teacher at New Bridges Elementary School:

Chancellor Fariña is a true public servant who has dedicated more than half a century of her life and passion to the children of New York. As a teacher, I appreciate how the Chancellor’s leadership was informed by her years in the classroom, and passion for seeing students succeed. She continued to seek teachers’ perspectives throughout her tenure so she could lead the district in focusing on key issues, such as meeting the needs of the whole child, providing wrap-around services to our most vulnerable students and engaging families. As the search for her replacement begins, I hope Mayor de Blasio will look to collaborate with those of us on the ground, students, families and teachers to find a replacement who will continue to build on her work.

And Evan Stone, co-CEO and co-founder:

We thank Chancellor Carmen Fariña for her dedicated service to the students of New York City. Chancellor Fariña has always placed students at the center of our city’s education policy through her leadership at the classroom, school and district levels. As Mayor de Blasio begins his search for a new chancellor, it is critical that he engage students, teachers and school communities in order to ensure that we find a dynamic leader who will continue to fight for equity by supporting and rewarding great teachers, improving school climate and culture and ensuring all students have access to great schools.

Jenny Sedlis, the leader of StudentsFirstNY, one of the fiercest critics of the de Blasio administration’s education policies, coupled muted praise for Fariña with a sharp critique of what has happened under her leadership:

Chancellor Carmen Farina has dedicated her career to public service, and no one can question that she has fought tirelessly for what she believes in. However, after four years of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s control of public schools, far too many low-income students remain trapped in struggling schools. We hope that the next Chancellor will push the Mayor to embrace evidence-based policies and parental choice.

James Merriman, has also butted heads with Fariña over the role of charter schools but offered a more positive take:

Chancellor Fariña, or Carmen as she prefers to be known, didn’t always see eye to eye with the charter sector. But because of her leadership, over time we forged a good working relationship that resulted in unprecedented collaboration and cooperation between the sector and the district. We hope that the next Chancellor will build on this foundation, and put in place policies that treat charters as full partners in the shared endeavor of giving every child an opportunity to receive a first rate public education.

The NYC Coalition for Educational Justice praised Fariña’s expertise but also said she leaves behind unfinished business.

Parents from the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice have appreciated having an educator at the helm who has a deep understanding of teaching and learning. However, our schools have a long way to go in order to provide all students with an excellent and equitable education. In her final months as Chancellor we hope Chancellor Fariña and Mayor de Blasio take a bold stance and elevate culturally responsive education (CRE). It is our desire that they will solidify the Chancellor’s legacy and leave the school system in a better place by giving schools and teachers the tools they need to confront bias and support a diverse student body.

Some New Yorkers took to Facebook and Twitter to share their thoughts about Fariña. From Sal Albanese, a Staten Islander who has run repeatedly for mayor, tweeted:

Farina had one important strength, she actually knew what went on in schools & a one key weakness she did not have total grasp of running a huge organization

Robert Stevenson, a teaching artist, recalled:

I’m sad to see her go. One of my most quoted teaching mantras comes from Carmen Fariña: “The answer is in the room.”

Not everyone reacted by looking backward at Fariña’s legacy. Some turned immediately to speculation about her replacement. Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz released a list of people she thinks should be considered for the job. And from a blog post by Peter Goodman, a longtime teachers union ally who frequently comments on the education department:

Over the next month or so the mayor will select this Moses-Jesus-Mohammad-Ghandi-like figure, and, I wish her/him luck.

Catherine Nolan, the state assemblywoman from Queens, sent this appreciation on Thursday:

Working with Chancellor Carmen Farina has been one of the joys of my own career in government. Honestly putting the children first, building change with true and lasting foundations, leading by example and dedication, is her true legacy and an inspiration for everyone that has had the privilege of working with her. She has worked to bring “equity and excellence” not as political buzzwords but as a true goal. I look forward to continuing to work with her and her team for the support of the children and families of New York.

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