BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Carmen Fariña, who has served as the city Department of Education’s (DOE) chancellor for four years, announced on Thursday that she will retire following the 2017-2018 academic year.
During a press conference, Fariña sat alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Charlene McCray, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, City Corporation Council Zachary Carter and FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Negro to discuss her pending retirement.
“I am proud of my dignity for teaching, joy of learning and trust in the system,” said Fariña. “Trust is a word we don’t use enough when it comes to public service.”
Fariña said that those entering public service should not focus on “personal ego and personal ambition.”
“I didn’t join the job to be loved and win a popularity contest,” said Fariña. “I came to be respected and for people to be motivated to do for the students of New York.”
De Blasio said that Fariña has exceeded his expectations.
“People felt they were in good hands,” said de Blasio. “There was an educator at the helm that knew [her] stuff and felt their lives. She will go down in history as the most effective chancellor we’ve ever had. So many children benefited, so many educators benefited from her leadership. Because of her leadership, [immigrant] children knew they were safe and protected in our schools. I asked a lot of Carmen Fariña and she gave me even more.”
Fariña, 74, has worked in education for more than 50 years as a teacher, principal, superintendent and deputy chancellor. Fariña assumed her position as the chancellor of the DOE in January 2014 after attempting to retire the year before.
In her first full year, Fariña oversaw the expansion of pre-k to more than 53,000 children, expanded the community school model, created a standalone cabinet-level department to support English language learners and increased funding for arts education and after-school programs for middle school students.
During her years in office, Fariña witnessed a rise in graduation rates, test scores and attendance, and implemented policies to ensure that it rose.
Fariña said that although she is retiring, she will continue to act as a public servant.
“I don’t see it as going into the sunset,” said Fariña. “I intend to stay involved.”
According to de Blasio, his administration is searching for the right candidate to assume Fariña’s position. He noted that her replacement would be an educator.
“We want to ensure that [the new chancellor] will be able to achieve things Carmen has been able to achieve,” said de Blasio.
The mayor said that the transition between Fariña and the new chancellor would not be difficult since “the vision is already on paper.”
Prior to Fariña, the DOE did not have a clear blueprint in terms of numerical goals, de Blasio said.
Fariña said that during her years as chancellor, she was often surprised to see a lack of collaboration between schools located in the same building. As chancellor, she personally visited a number of schools each day to assist her in implementing and reforming city policies. This method enabled her to learn from teachers and administrators which policies worked.
She noted that the city has 25 co-located high schools and believes that principals at those schools should work together to make operations run more smoothly.
“Collaboration is key to everything,” said Fariña.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.