Chancellor Richard Carranza apologized if he offended anyone with a late-night retweet last week — but that doesn’t mean he is done directly addressing the issue of school segregation.
At a school visit in Queens Monday, Carranza told reporters that he “will pay more attention in the future” when he retweets stories, referring to his early Friday tweet of a Raw Story article about an Upper West Side middle school integration plan. He tweeted the site’s inflammatory headline “Wealthy white Manhattan parents angrily rant against plan to bring more black kids to their schools.”
But he also said New Yorkers shouldn’t expect him to be quiet on the issue — something that he acknowledged that his predecessor was accused of doing.
“The criticism of my predecessor Chancellor Fariña was that she didn’t do anything about this,” he said. “And here I am in my first month actually engaging in this conversation.”
Yet he signaled that he would not necessarily depart from Fariña’s vision that efforts to integrate schools should come not from the city education department, but from local communities and elected parent leaders on Community Education Councils in each district. (He had previously indicated a greater willingness to have the department drive those efforts directly.)
“Let’s all take a breath,” Carranza said. “Let’s let communities come forward with what their solutions could be. Let’s give the space to our CECs to lead those conversations.”
The District 3 integration proposal was thrust into public view last week when an NY1 video rom a parent meeting went viral. Under the plan, a quarter of seats at the district’s 16 middle schools will be offered to students whose state test scores are below proficient in reading and math.
At the meeting, a mother shouts: “You’re telling them, ‘You’re going to go to a school that’s not going to educate you in the same way you’ve been educated: Life sucks!’”
On Friday, Carranza called the plan “very modest, quite frankly.” He offered more detail on Monday, saying, “Nowhere in there are they talking about some of the very drastic things like busing or like rezoning or any of those things. I think it’s a modest conversation to be had.” (The school on the Upper West Side where the video was shot, P.S. 199, also faced a bitter rezoning process last year.)
Carranza said Monday that while he was sorry if his tweet offended anyone, he continues to stand behind the substance behind it. “The video of the comments that were made — I don’t know how anybody could be okay with that,” he said.
And he said he is still figuring out the right way to talk about what should be done to decrease segregation in city schools.
“I’m not going to tell you what I think is too far or not enough. We’re way too early — I’m way too early — in that conversation to opine in that way,” Carranza said. “Let’s stop talking about a tweet and let’s start talking about the issue. And the issue is segregated schools and that cannot be what we want in New York City.”