Call it a lesson learned the hard way.
The chair of the Council’s education committee blasted Mayor DeBlasio for ignoring the city’s education experts when he picked a new school chancellor who ended up abruptly backing out of the job just a day after the mayor’s office announced his appointment.
Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island), a former teacher, told this paper that he and other local education experts were left out of the selection process that resulted in the ill-fated job offer to Miami-Dade County public schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho, and that he hopes Hizzoner learned his lesson from the very public failure.
“To speak as a former teacher, I’ll call this process a ‘teachable moment’ for the mayor,” said Treyger, who taught social studies at New Utrecht High School for seven years before running for office in 2013. “The best decisions are the most informed decisions, and you have to involve critical stakeholders — educators from the city school system, parents of children in our school system, school communities and organizations — all organizations that have a vested interest in seeing our schools succeed.”
On Feb. 28, Politico New York broke the news that Carvalho would replace Carmen Fariña as schools chancellor — but Carvalho suddenly backed out of his new role less than 24 hours later, at an emergency school board meeting in Miami that was broadcast on live television, leaving Hizzoner reeling.
Treyger said the mayor’s office didn’t reach out to him until after Carvalho had already been hired. And when mayoral reps contacted him following the debacle on March 1, Treyger said he told them that the process for choosing the next chancellor — who will preside over the nation’s largest school system, with 1.1 million students and a $30 billion budget — must be more collaborative and transparent. Treyger added that he doesn’t even know who else was on the mayor’s short list, since the hiring process has been so secretive.
“This is an enormous decision that has an enormous impact on the lives of so many children, and I don’t agree with the approach of making a decision of this magnitude in isolation,” he said. “Up to this point they have not really consulted anyone beyond their circle in the mayor’s office, so I am not privy to any list of candidates that they have.”
Treyger said that any candidate to be the next chancellor should be an educator, not a bureaucrat, and should be willing to venture out of the Department of Education offices and be a regular fixture in city classrooms.
“In order to have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening on the day-to-day lives of kids in schools, you need to be inside those schools,” he said.
He also suggested that DeBlasio look locally for someone already familiar with the city’s unique school system.
“I respect the mayor’s decision to conduct a national search, but I think there’s plenty of talent in New York City as well,” Treyger said.
The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment about who had been involved in selecting Carvalho as chancellor or who would be involved in selecting the next candidate.