WOMEN SHAPING HISTORY 2018
Farewell from Chancellor Carmen Fariña
By Chancellor Carmen Fariña
Chancellor Carmen Fariña
As an educator for 52 years, I know that all of our schools’ most important work happens in the classroom. As I prepare to retire, I am so proud of what we have accomplished over the last four years.
As I reflect on the current state of New York City schools, I’m excited to share that we have record-high graduation rates, record-high numbers of students going on to college, record-low dropout rates, and improving test scores. We’re building on this progress with 3-K for All, Computer Science for All, and Community Schools. Many of our investments in classrooms across the City – particularly in training teachers and improving classroom instruction – are less splashy and often overlooked, but are just as critical to our vision of Equity and Excellence for All.
I wanted to share some of the “under the radar” investments that are making an impact in our classrooms:
Teacher training. Nearly four years ago, one of the first things I did was set aside 80 minutes at every school every week for teacher training. This is a game-changer for schools and the children and families we serve. During the 80 minutes, teachers learn how to use new cutting-edge resources; plan for upcoming lessons; and look closely at students’ performance on tests and essays to figure out what they’re teaching well and what they need to do better.
Passport to Social Studies. Since I was a child and my father read Spanish books with me about the history of Spain (his native country), Social Studies has always been my favorite subject. Unfortunately, it was not seen as a priority in schools, but it has to be. Last school year, we released a brand-new Social Studies curriculum, the Passport to Social Studies. And now, just this month, the Mayor announced Civics for All bringing big investments in civics and social studies for all students.
Investments in middle school. If we get middle school right, students can find hobbies and passions, and start carving their path to college and careers. We now provide an after-school seat for every middle-school student, and also started a program called “Teen Thursdays,” where 7th-grade students can visit many local cultural institutions. Also, through our Algebra for All initiative we are making sure students get the math instruction they need in 5th grade and middle school so they’re ready to take on advanced math courses in high school.
Collaboration over competition. I’ve always been a believer in collaboration over competition. Last school year, we tapped into that collaborative spirit and brought the “co-located campus initiative” to 20 campuses across all five boroughs. Participating schools are on a single bell schedule so all students on the campus can share AP and enrichment courses, increasing access to more rigorous coursework. Teachers come together for shared professional development and there is family welcome centers to encourage all parents to get involved.
Family engagement. None of our instructional work can achieve its potential without a strong partnership between families and schools, and increasing family engagement is a central priority.
We’ve increased the number of evening parent-teacher conferences to make them more convenient for families – resulting in a 40 percent increase in conference attendance – and provided additional training to parent coordinators.
These “under the radar” efforts – and many like them – are making a real impact for children and families across the City. There’s a lot of work our teachers, principals and families are doing every day to put us on the path to Equity and Excellence for All, and put our children on the path to success. We have so much to be proud of. It has been the greatest honor to serve as your Chancellor and I look forward to our shared work ahead. #