New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza made his first trip to Albany since taking the helm of the nation’s largest school system on Tuesday — and promised it won’t be his last.
Carranza traveled to New York’s capital to attend the state’s Senate and Assembly education committee meetings. The new chancellor introduced himself, fielded questions from lawmakers, and made it clear that he hopes to be a presence in Albany during his tenure.
“I think it’s really important that we start and have a working relationship,” Carranza said during the Senate’s education committee meeting. “You’re going to see a lot of me.”
As Carranza gets to know Albany, he will have to navigate meeting lawmakers who haven’t always gotten along with his boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio. In particular, Senate Republicans have been hard on de Blasio, giving him only short-term extensions of mayoral control — and using that policy lever to take swipes at the mayor.
And getting along with those state lawmakers will actually be important for implementing de Blasio’s education agenda. The mayor’s plans to make schools more fair often require pouring additional resources into high-needs schools, and in order to fully fund schools, de Blasio says the city needs more help from Albany.
Just last week, the mayor took several shots at state education spending. While unveiling a city plan to boost spending by $125 million, he said the state is continuing to shirk its responsibility to pay billions in school aid that is required under the terms of a 2006 settlement. The following day, he said it was “surprising” that state lawmakers spent as little on education as they did this year.
In brief comments to reporters Tuesday, Carranza repeated some of the mayor’s concerns and said that he will push for more school funding in the future.
“I want to have a conversation with the legislature at some point about resources,” Carranza said. “If we have those resources we can fully fund all of our schools, and we know that funding is critically important.”
Carranza will also need to push for specific initiatives. For instance, the mayor’s plan to expand his signature prekindergarten push to three-year-old students will likely take millions in state and federal funds.
He may also lobby lawmakers to change a state law that requires certain elite city high schools to admit students based on their performance on a single test. The admissions method has been under fire, as only about 10 percent of admissions offers went to black or Hispanic students even though about 70 percent of the city’s students are black and Hispanic.
When pushed on the issue Tuesday, Carranza did not provide a particular solution to the problem, but suggested that students should be rated based on “multiple measures.”
“People are more than the sum total of a test,” Carranza said. “I actually think having a single source of identifying students for an educational opportunity is perhaps not the most inclusive way of truly finding talent.”