Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina on rough first 2 months - FOX 13 News

Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina on rough first 2 months

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) - Just over two months ago, semi-retired education official Carmen Farina, 70, became the head of the New York City school system.

She knew it would be grueling.

"At my age you wouldn't do this job unless you thought you had something to offer," Farina said during Good Day New York.

Critics have been tough on Farina particularly after a comment she made during a snow storm last month. The De Blasio administration kept schools open on a day many felt students and staff would have been safer staying home. Farina took to the microphone and said "it has totally stopped snowing. It's an absolutely beautiful day out there." But the reality on the streets covered in snow and ice was very different.

"We had been in a very dark room upstairs and we were coming down the stairs and there was a window and at that particular moment it had stopped snowing and the sun came out for all of five minutes. I was just so happy it had stopped snowing. I'm going to learn to be very careful about what I say," said Farina.

Now, criticism is being waged at the administration on universal pre-Kindergarten. The city wants to tax wealthy New Yorkers to fund the program. Some say De Blasio appears insistent on taxing the rich. 

“The money (from the state) that comes for a year or two then dries up. We want to make sure the funding is there over time and it can’t be used for something else. I see it as an investment. The younger they start school particularly our English language learners the more cognitive skills they have," said Farina.

Another issue facing the education system is the fight to keep three charter schools open after the city said it wants to close those schools. Some say there is a personal grudge between the administration and the director of the charter schools, Eva Moskowitz.

"Eva and I worked together when I was a principal at P.S. 6 and she was on the city council, we met regularly. Two of them don’t exist; they have no students. When children go into those buildings, the high school gets closed down over time. It's what traditionally has happened. The criteria for the proposals that we pulled, one was no removal of district 75 children (our special needs children.) No elementary schools in high schools. The original charter movement was created to try innovated things and share them with public schools. Some when they’re in another building don’t share their resources. I have nothing against charter schools if anything I want to encourage them," said Farina.

Of the schools that will be closed including Success Academy 4, Farina says the displaced children will be moved to another school.

"We are looking for space. Let's be very clear, there are kids in that building that would have to leave to accommodate (Success Academy). We are not going to hurt the kids that are in that building," said Farina.

Beyond charter schools, another tough issue facing the NYC public education system is the Common Core- a series of education strategies widely criticized by teachers, parents and students.

"There was this fear that someone would have to follow a curriculum in a certain way. People all have opinions but they don’t know what it is. We are re-doing it. (We're) taking the standards and aligning them with the materials for the past few years. There was no professional development department at the DOE and now there is," said Farina.

Despite the challenges, Farina is happy she took the job. She promised to return to Good Day NY once she reaches the '100 day' mark in April. 

"I really believe New York City can be the best urban city in education in this country," said Farina.

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