There's growing speculation that an educator with years on the job in New York City will be the city's next schools chancellor. While Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio hasn't tipped his hand, attention is focusing on a former teacher, principal and Department of Education insider who was also known for her outreach. Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
Carmen Farina is the woman behind the man who would, 19 months later, be elected mayor.
She is also, insiders say, the one who helped construct most of his education policy. Until recently, Farina said she was happy to informally advise her old friend but was not interested, at age 70, in coming out of retirement to take on the grueling job of schools chancellor.
But Bill de Blasio may have convinced her.
It wouldn't be the first time she's been tapped for a prestigious post she didn't seek.
“I don't think you always ask or you don't look for a job, but when a job comes to you and you’re told you're the person who needs to carry forth, you don’t say no,” said Farina in 2004.
That was after Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein made Farina the top instructional leader in the city. They turned to her after the previous deputy resigned in scandal and their first choice was rejected by the state for not having enough experience.
Farina was brought in as a longtime, well-respected educator who would set things on the right course.
She was praised as “hands on, no nonsense” by then City-Council woman, now charter school leader, Eva Moscowitz.
And when Farina retired two years later, The Times described her as the "crucial bridge between professional educators and the private consultants and other corporate minded officials recruited by Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein to restructure the system.”
She taught at PS 29 in Brooklyn, where students say she created individualized work for each of them, despite having more than 40 kids in her class.
As a principal at PS 6 in Manhattan, Farina's reputation for developing teachers attracted more than 500 visitors a year.
And as a regional superintendent, she was focused on inequalities in the system.
"There were entire districts in the region where the principals had never had professional development, where equity was a word, but not a feeling and certainly not a real statement that was followed,” she said in 2005.
If she becomes the next chancellor, Farina's 40-year career means she'll be the first in more than a decade who won't need a waiver to take the job.
"We're educators, after all,” she said.