Rather than continuing to sow racial divisions, to walk out on aggrieved parents, to wink and nod at grade-fixing, to alienate elected officials and to allow little girls to get pummeled in the middle school cafeteria, New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza should resign. He’s welcome to do so by copying and pasting the following onto his letterhead and having it delivered.
Dear Mayor de Blasio (Bill),
It is with heavy heart that I write, but I have no choice.
As you know, when confronted by parents in Bayside, Queens, whose children had been assaulted by other students — one of them sexually, along with months of harassment — I turned tail and ran. I had to. Sure, this was at a meeting of the District 26 Community Education Council and there were cops in the room, but it was scary. I don’t know what these outerborough parents are capable of, and I’m the chancellor — I can’t let them touch a perfect hair on my head.
You saw the video of that girl getting a beatdown at MS 158. Man, she got pounded. That one teacher made a half-hearted attempt to grab her attacker, but then he let her go and she just kept on going. That’s when she jumped onto and off the table to carry on the assault like some pro wrestler. It would have been nice if the teachers actually stopped her before she got back on the table to do that victory dance, but can you blame them? They’d get sued, and we’d just have to settle. Plus, we’re all about restorative justice, not stopping kids from doing what they please through physical measures.
So now we’ve got the teachers union saying the lack of discipline is lowering morale and making it harder to manage classes. The CEC put out an announcement that mocked me between the lines. Seven elected officials, from City Hall to Capitol Hill, issued a letter demanding answers.
I’ve got none, your honor. I’m an ideologue and I’m afraid.
Everything else is a mess, too. In nearby District 28, we’re trying to get Jamaica parents to let their kids be bused to Forest Hills and vice versa because we have to force desegregation. These people just keep moving into neighborhoods with other people who look like them! And when we come in and tell them there’s a better way, just put your 12-year-old on that city bus for a couple hours a day, they get all upset. We have to make a show of getting “community input,” but man, imposing change from above is stressful.
You saw how we failed to do that with the Specialized High School Admissions Test. Of course fewer Asian kids will get into the SHSAT schools if we make it so more black and Hispanic students do; we all know that. But those darn parents fought us and they won! Now if we want a more balanced enrollment, like it was years ago, we’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way, and improve the elementary and middle schools black and Hispanic kids attend. That’s hard!
And you know I have it on impeccable sources that when a Queens Chronicle editor asked Rep. Grace Meng if she thought I was dealing with the SHSAT from a position of good faith, there were about five seconds of silence before she said I had a lot of ground to make up for but she’s willing to work with me. The air was heavy in those moments!
We both know kids aren’t learning better than when I arrived. Graduation rates are up, but that’s because standards are down. If that wasn’t the reason, the kids would be doing better on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and they’re not. Think Maspeth High School is the only one where the staff helps kids cheat? Think again.
I couldn’t take the heat in Bayside, my friend, and I gotta head out. This whole town should be called Hell’s Kitchen!
Richard A. Carranza
Chancellor, New York City Department of Education