School Chancellor Carranza in his own words

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff and NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 6/21/2018, midnight
Just over four months on the job, newly appointed public schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza has already seen his fair ...
New York City Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza Bill Moore photo

New York, New York, if you can make it here, etc., etc.

So, with just over four months on the job, newly appointed public schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza has already seen his fair share of what New York City is dealing with in terms of public education.

The AmNews recently sat down with Carranza for a 30-minute interview on his vision for the schools system and where he stands on issues affecting the city’s 1.1 million students.

Before coming to New York City, Carranza served for just 18 months as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District in Texas, which has just over 214,000 students. Although the number of students he serves increased when he made the move, his $345,000 salary did not.

With something like pride, he said that New York is the fifth school district he’s worked in.

“So New York City is the fifth city that I’ve lived and worked in, fifth school system, five,” he stated. “Every school system has had to work on this issue that I’ve ever ran. It’s not particular to New York City. I think New York City has taken some steps already around making the curriculum culturally responsive.”

He continued, “What we’re doing and what I’ve asked my colleagues in teaching and learning, curriculum instruction is to actually give me a report and move forward. How do we make a multicultural curriculum ethnically sensitive?”

Evidently impressed, he said that he recently went to STAR Academy (STAR is an acronym for Students Taking Active Roles), where the entire faculty is so “anti-racist, multicultural and inclusive around what they are doing” it “knocked my socks off.”

He added, “There is in a system that’s big as ours, there are probably a lot of schools like that that are doing some incredible work that we may not ever really be made of aware of yet. Part of what I’m asking folks to do is go out and find what are lost best practices that are already happening in our schools system so that we may actually identify them and bring others to see what they are doing.”

He discussed that at STAR, the entire third, fourth and fifth grade math team teachers (all white) were planning a unit on fractions. They were planning about how to make math part of their Civil Rights unit.

He explained, “They were talking about when you do fractions you have the results, there are fractions. How do we relate that to what laws have been passed? One of the teachers said, ‘Well, students are going to talk about Jim Crow Laws and how back in our earliest days of our history, African-Americans were three-fifths of a vote. So we can use that as part of our fractions lesson.’ They were doing this work. It was really important for me to see that there are probably schools across the city that are doing some incredible work. We may or may not even know about yet. But the goal is going to be to have a focus.”