Meisha Ross Porter, a South Jamaica native who rose up through the ranks from principal and superintendent to executive superintendent of the Bronx, will take over when Richard Carranza steps down.
Carranza’s three-year tenure atop the Department of Education has been contentious to say the least. He drew criticism from elected officials, parents and many in the Asian-American community after his 2019 remarks that he doesn’t “buy into the narrative that any one ethnic group owns admissions” into the specialized high schools.
His focus on integrating the city’s segregated school system, by scrapping the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT), eliminating the Gifted and Talented (G&T) program, and getting rid of middle school screens, rankled many families.
At some point, a group of critics even followed Carranza to public events to stage protests across the city. The disparagement against the chancellor was often racist, with elected officials and detractors mocking his Mexican-American heritage.
Carranza said last week he was stepping down because he needed time to grieve the loss of 11 family members and close friends to the pandemic.
He defended his record as the schools chancellor, noting that he never strayed away from who he was and what he fought for: an equitable education system that uplifts all students, not just some.
His successor, Porter, should continue to shine a spotlight on the entrenched segregation afflicting the city’s public school system, and implement measures to integrate it more fully.
Though she only has ten months left before a new mayor is elected and sworn in, Porter will have platform to make sure the Department of Education deepens its commitment to both excellence and equity.
Both are needed to ensure that New York City’s public schools serve all of its 1.1 million students, families and communities while making progress in academic achievement.