In an interview with the New York Observer, Fariña says, “To me the most important thing is, what do my constituents think of my work? Are teachers happy? Are principals happy? Are parents happy?”
Today the New York Post comments, “[t]eachers first, principals second — then come parents. And she thinks of them all as her constituents — as if she were elected to look after their interests.
Sorry, Madam Chancellor: It’s not about the adults at all. You’re supposed to put the kids’ needs above all else.”
Now, in all fairness, The Post is neither a fan of Farina nor her boss Mayor Bill de Blasio. The editorial gleefully references a report of a eleventh-grade NYC English class reading aloud “The Three Little Pigs,” typically kindergarten-first grade fare, and then links to a new report from Students First that showed that “more than half of the city’s schools can’t get even a quarter of students in grades 3-8 to pass the English exam.”
But, whatever you think of the Post’s political bent, the Editorial Board’s commentary gets to the heart of much of the current kerfuffle about school accountability.
Most of us parents agree that students should be held to higher standards and that we need some sort of mechanism — probably standardized tests — to have an annual “check-up” of their progress. Most of us parents think that seventeen year-olds should be studying something more substantive than nursery tales (that wasn’t a special ed class, by the way): we want our children to be challenged, not babied; we want their high school diplomas to signify proficiency and readiness. Most of us parents don’t care about the governance of their children’s public school or whether it’s traditional or charter; Farina’s well-known animosity towards charters* is gratuitously obtuse. And most of us parents value the academic growth of our children over the “happiness” of teachers, principals, and constituents.
Of course we want our teachers to be happy. But not at the expense of our children’s academic growth.
And that’s where Farina gets her priorities wrong.
When she was first hired as NYC’s school chancellor, Diane Ravitch joyfully tweeted,
De Blasio kept his word to AFT lobbyists. He broke his word to parents and children.
*Example from RealClearEducation: “Apparently frustrated by scores of charter schools succeeding far better with low-income and minority students, Fariña recently blurted out that they must be cheating. They must be shoving out their lower performing students. Except she couldn’t prove it, and had to back away from her own words.”