8 MARCH 4, 2021 RIDGEWOOD TIMES WWW.QNS.COM
Carranza’s departure brings a ‘sense of optimism’ to some
Queens offi cials and activists
BY ANGÉLICA ACEVEDO
Aft er a tumultuous three years
leading the nation’s largest
public school system, Schools
Chancellor Richard Carranza announced
he is resigning from his
post next month. Some of Queens’
education advocates and elected
offi cials have begun reacting to the
news, welcoming new leadership to
the Department of Education.
On Feb. 26, Carranza said he’s
leaving his position in mid-March
due to the personal toll the COVID-19
pandemic has had on him, and to take
time to grieve the 11 family members
and friends he’s lost to the virus.
“This is a bittersweet moment for me,”
said Carranza. “I came to New York
City three years ago with a mission
to help the Department of Education
reach its full potential and of course to
serve and lift up all, not just some, but
all of our public school children.”
Meisha Porter, who currently
serves as Bronx executive superintendent,
will succeed Carranza. Porter,
a Queens native, is the fi rst Black
woman to hold the chancellor’s offi ce.
Carranza counts the initial closing
of the public school system and
move to remote learning in March;
distribution of half a million devices
for remote learning; distribution of
80 million meals; as well as school
reopenings last fall as some of his
tenure’s successes during an unprecedented
year of navigating the COVID-
He said he felt comfortable fi nally
taking time to process the impact the
virus has taken on his family now that
offi cials have “stabilized” the public
Yet, for many parents, educators
and students, the public school system
— which serves more than 1.1 million
students — is still far from stabilized
during the ongoing pandemic.
Phil Wong, president of Community
Education Council 24 representing
parts of western and central Queens,
said there is still much to be fi xed
— from reopening all schools for
in-person learning to ensuring all
students who live in homeless shelters
have access to the internet.
“Overall there’s been poor planning,
poor organization and poor execution,”
Wong told QNS.
But Carranza’s time as the head
of the city’s public school system
was fi lled with backlash from some
Queens parents and elected offi cials,
even prior to the pandemic.
One of the main points of contention
was Carranza’s eff orts to reform
both the Specialized High School
Admissions Test (SHSAT) and Gift ed
and Talented program, as part of his
Richard Carranza Photo by Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Offi ce
mission to desegregate schools and
bring equity into the city’s public
school system. But that has been a
complex issue to address in New
York City, which is considered one of
the most segregated school systems in
Reports from The New York Times
suggest arguments between the chancellor
and Mayor Bill de Blasio over
the Gift ed and Talented program may
be a reason behind his departure.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s
statement regarding Carranza’s departure
alluded to possible tensions.
“Richard Carranza was a real
partner in our eff orts to open school
safely,” Mulgrew said. “Too oft en he
had to fi ght behind the scenes to keep
the needs of students, staff and their
families ahead of politics. We wish
him well. He will be missed.”
Carranza, though, maintains that
his departure is for personal reasons.
In a letter to the school community,
Carranza wrote he is unsure what is
next for him.
Wong is part of a group of education
advocates who have staunchly
opposed Carranza and his policies.
Most recently, he’s dismayed by how
the city is administering the Gift ed
and Talented program.
“The issue has alienated parents,”
Wong said. “Thousands signed up,
then were told there would be no
test, then were told there would be a
lottery. There was no clear direction.
The result is parents losing confi dence
and they leave for charter schools,
Catholic schools and even leave the
This year, the city reported an
unusual decline in enrollment rate of
about 43,000 students, or 4 percent
decrease. But enrollment has been
steadily declining for years for varying
reasons, including declining birthrates
and an increase in charter school
enrollment, according to Chalkbeat.
Councilman Robert Holden, Carranza’s
most vocal critic in the City
Council, didn’t mince words following
the announcement of his departure.
“Chancellor Carranza, the city’s
most overpaid non-essential worker,
constantly put his own political agenda
ahead of our students’ education”
Holden said. “His relentless attacks
on academic standards and Gift ed
and Talented opportunities hurt our
public school system. His resignation
is the best thing to happen to our city’s
students and teachers in a long time.
We need to focus on making sure our
hardest working students have the
opportunities they earn.”
Porter has an extensive history with
the DOE, from serving as a teacher
and most recently an administrator.
She’ll be the fi rst person appointed
from within DOE leadership in recent
history to lead the department.
Queensboro Unico released the results and winners of its virtual raffl e last month.
Winners of the raffl e include John Canella ($500), Frank DeFrank ($1,500) and
Anthony Ferretti ($2,500). Queensboro Unico wants to thank members, friends, family
and associates for the “truly amazing” turnout and generous donations. In total,
Unico rasied $11,000 to to assist the needs of the community.