Wanted: Schools Chief Who Has Never Crossed de Blasio on Education
Katherine Frey/The Washington Post, via Getty Images; Kris Connor/Getty Images; Jennifer S. Altman for The New York Times
By DAVID W. CHEN and AL BAKER
Published: December 17, 2013
With a populist pitch forged by his own experiences as a public school parent, Bill de Blasio surged to victory in New York’s mayoral race thanks, in part, to his vow to shift away from Michael R. Bloomberg’s education policies.
But two weeks before he takes office, Mayor-elect de Blasio has yet to pick a schools chancellor to carry out his own agenda. Indeed, while there is no shortage of people who would love to run the nation’s largest school system, given Mr. de Blasio’s own requirements, the pool of qualified candidates is actually quite small.
No matter where he turns, it is almost impossible to find someone who has run a large school system in the last decade without having to close failing schools, expand charters or comply with state and federal guidelines on using tests to grade schools and teachers — all hallmarks of the education reform movement championed by Mayor Bloomberg, and all policies that Mr. de Blasio has said have serious flaws.
Carmen Fariña, a former deputy chancellor and the candidate who most closely matches Mr. de Blasio’s own thinking on education, was telling friends as recently as November that she was not interested in coming out of retirement and giving up her time spent helping raise her grandchildren.
But the short list of candidates now seems to include her. Recently, Mr. de Blasio called Ms. Fariña, 70, to see if she would reconsider her earlier reluctance, and she said she