Carmen Fariña was coaxed out of retirement to lead the nation’s largest school system as chancellor. Could the 73-year old, self-proclaimed abuela be ready to leave work behind once again?
Chatter has mounted recently over whether Fariña, after 50 years in public education, is on her way out. The city Department of Education has consistently denied the rumors, which have surfaced before. This time is no different.
“Not true,” department spokeswoman Toya Holness wrote in an email.
In February, City & State columnist Gerson Borrero proclaimed that Fariña would step down by the end of the year. That was followed by a sharply worded editorial in the New York Post, titled “Carmen Fariña shouldn’t wait to quit.”
Aaron Pallas, an education professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, also recently hinted that her term is coming to an end.
“We’re probably seeing the winding down of Carmen Fariña at the helm,” he told Chalkbeat in February, when asked to analyze the striking lack of education news in the mayor’s State of the City address.
Then came a lengthy Politico story on Thursday that was laced with nostalgia. The headline proclaimed Fariña was taking a “last stand” to defend public education, and described her as winding down her long career.
Fariña seemed particularly reflective when she told Politico: “I can say I’ve left a legacy, and at the end of the day, as exhausted as I am, I can say I’ve made a difference.”
Holness, the department spokeswoman, seemed to counter that sentiment on Friday.
“The chancellor is energized and excited to continue this important work,” she told Chalkbeat.
If she is leaving, David Bloomfield, an education professor at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, guessed it wouldn’t be anytime soon. Since education falls under the purview of the mayor in New York City, it would be up to Bill de Blasio to name her successor. That would be an unnecessary distraction in the upcoming mayoral campaign, Bloomfield said.
“She and Bill have been together for many years. Bill was a community school board member when she was the superintendent of schools, so she’s loyal to him,” Bloomfield said. “The last thing he wants is to have a question about the chancellor pick dogging him into election day.”