“Raising the success rate of our students is the only goal,” said Carmen Fariña the day then-Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced that she would head New York City’s 1.1 million-student public school system.
One way or another, she might’ve added.
Because Susan Edelman, Carl Campanile and other Post reporters keep digging up flagrant proof of fraud at school after school.
Whether it’s the rigging of Regents test scores at Automotive High School in Brooklyn or retroactively “rescoring” test outcomes at Richmond Hills High School in Queens, or giving flunking students “online credit” at Flushing High School in Queens, or flat-out handing a pass to a student who didn’t even bother to attend class at William Cullen Bryant High School in Queens, it all adds up to the same thing.
Carmen Fariña is dedicated to the appearance of success, if not its achievement.
Fariña’s direct, personal culpability in the test-fixing shenanigans that Edelman and Campanile have so ably reported over the past several weeks no doubt is minimal.
But responsibility for the scandal is hers, and Mayor de Blasio’s, and they must answer for it.
Fat chance that either will recognize it, though.
That’s because each is totally invested in public education the way it used to be, before Mayor Mike Bloomberg bludgeoned Albany into granting him substantial — if not total — operational control of the system.
Reform followed — glacially, perhaps, and incompletely.
But it was real.
From 2005 to 2013, the city’s four-year high school graduation rate jumped by more than 40 percent, while its dropout rate halved — imperfect metrics, perhaps, but telling nevertheless.
And when Albany toughened its performance tests four years ago, scores in New York City dropped — but not nearly as sharply as in other urban school systems in the state.
Nevertheless, de Blasio & Co. have never missed an opportunity to criticize the Bloomberg reforms — and to promise to reverse them.
That’s because those reforms profoundly threaten the chief impediment to positive public school change in New York City: the United Federation of Teachers.
Bloomberg championed teacher accountability, as measured by student performance, as well as alternatives to the old ways — in particular, charter schools.
Fariña, whose grandmotherly public demeanor masks startling private bluntness, is coy about accountability — promising to “take the temperature down around testing.”
Translation: We want no part of accountability testing.
Neither is she interested in charter schools — except to throttle their growth.
That’s to be expected from someone with more than four decades invested in the old ways — a former teacher who worked her way through the ranks all the way to a brief stint as a deputy schools chancellor in the Bloomberg years.
That the Bloomberg gig was a bad fit regarding reform is underscored by Fariña’s long policy association with bitterly anti-reform activist Diane Ravitch — said to wield substantial influence at the Department of Education now.
Then there is UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s enthusiasm for Fariña. “Carmen is a real educator. She has a deep knowledge of schools and our system and is on record criticizing Mayor Bloomberg’s focus on high-stakes testing,” he said at her appointment. “We look forward to working with her.”
So far, the association has been a winner for the union, which quickly secured a multiyear contract so lavish, the raises alone won’t fully be paid for until 2020.
The mayor, of course, is mainly responsible for that lopsided contract. But it was just ducky with Fariña, the ostensible manager who got no management reforms whatsoever in return for the pay hikes.
But why would she want them? Who needs management prerogatives when the union is running the show anyway?
De Blasio is still smoldering at his rough treatment by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature last month — especially over Albany’s refusal to grant him full, unfettered control over the schools.
So far, the mayor has done little to earn that sort of power — again, essentially aligning himself with the UFT and other anti-reform elements.
Nothing dramatizes that more than his hiring of Carmen Fariña in the first place — just as nothing will demonstrate his continuing unfitness to run the schools more clearly than permitting her to sweep the fraudulent-graduation scandals off into a corner.
It may not seem so to de Blasio, but he has another credibility crisis on his hands.
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