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New Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña takes over helm with no-nonsense approach

Schools Chancellor takes teaching away from testing
Schools Chancellor takes teaching away from testing
New York Daily News

Carmen Fariña is taking over the demanding position of Schools Chancellor for The New York City Department of Education. A veteran teacher, principal, and administrator, the 70 year-old dynamo knows how to get results. She aims to take the focus away from testing and move it back to teaching. Her story is profiled in The New York Times (January 14, 2014) and chronicles a life spent in school. For more about this powerful new women in New York City visit

"It was the early 1990s, and Ms. Fariña, a hard-charging educator with an irrepressible Brooklyn accent, was on a mission to shake up Public School 6 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, already one of the most prestigious in New York City," added the profile in The Times. "She held assemblies on bathroom behavior. She popped into classes daily and nagged staff members about dull bulletin board displays. She prodded teachers she considered a poor fit to leave. She ended a popular gifted program, and asked some of the city’s most assertive parents to do the unthinkable: keep a distance from classrooms."

"Ms. Fariña, the new schools chancellor, softened her stern image with generosity, hosting co-workers at her home for dinner, inviting teachers on retreats and handing out lollipops after grueling days," added The Times article. "To help with history lessons, she dressed up as Peter Stuyvesant, a colonial governor of Dutch New York, using a plunger to pass as a wooden leg."

Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced Ms. Fariña, 70, as head of the Education Department, added The Times and "praised her record as a 40-year veteran of the school system, rising from a sprightly teacher in working-class Brooklyn to a top official. His choice represented a sharp departure from the education policies of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who placed an emphasis on test scores and appointed leaders with corporate savvy," according to the report.

"Ms. Fariña arrives with a loyal following of teachers and principals who view her as a hero for quitting as a deputy chancellor in Mr. Bloomberg’s Education Department in 2006, after being cast aside amid differences over the direction of the system. She has sharpened her critique of those years, vowing, along with Mr. de Blasio, to reduce the emphasis on standardized testing," added The Times.

Carmen Fariña takes the focus away from testing

“It’s taken us down the wrong road,” the mayor said in introducing Ms. Fariña last month at a Brooklyn middle school, according to The Times report “We’re going to do all we can to roll that back to focus on the best quality teaching.”

“I’m not a Mary Poppins kind of person,” she said recently, according to The Times story. “We can fix things, but not if everyone’s afraid to say what’s really not working.”

Staten Island teachers, parents, and educators tell us what you think of the new Schools Chancellor. As one of Mayor De Blasio's first major decisions all eyes will be on our new Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. Please tell us what you think of Mayor De Blasio's bold move?