A Savior in Search of Friends
“We will not wait to integrate our schools!” our schools chancellor Richard Carranza declared this spring. “We will not wait to dismantle the segregated systems we have!”

Rarely has a high New York official dived so enthusiastically into the city’s racial minefield. Carranza, Mayor de Blasio’s second choice for chancellor, has made desegregating the country’s largest school system his first and seemingly only priority. The implications are huge, and across the country education leaders have been watching with fascination.

Carranza has antagonized a multitude of constituencies as he evangelizes for desegregation seemingly daily, pledging to abolish specialized high school admissions tests, end gifted and talented programs, shake up segregated school communities, and more. 

“I just don’t buy into the narrative that any one ethnic group owns admission to these schools,” he once said of the city’s elite high schools and their large Asian populations. You can pretty much guess how the Asian community felt about that.

Carranza, wrote Eliza Shapiro in Politico last June, was potentially “the most radical city schools chancellor of the past decade.”

But the air has started to leak from the balloon. The New York Times, for one, seems unimpressed with Carranza’s crusade a year into his tenure. "Desegregating N.Y. Schools Was His Top Priority. What Happened?" queried the headline over a story by the same Eliza Shapiro, now an education reporter for The Times.

“As he enters his second year, he seems to be trying to reset expectations,” she reported. And so he is. “If I integrated the system the next thing I’m going to do is I’m going to walk on water,” he said, tossing the old, bold pronouncements overboard.

Unfortunately for the chancellor, the media outlet that’s taken his agenda most seriously is the one that hates him the most. 

The New York Post has turned Carranza into public enemy number one. “Demoted for Being White” blared the wood in May, reporting on a reverse discrimination lawsuit. The paper has referred to him as a "thin-skinned divider ," derided his hirings (“Carranza’s just finding jobs for cronies,” charged an editorial). The paper even trashed his  attempt to counter  the onslaught of negative Post coverage. The chancellor, said the edit board, is "racially biased," and flirting with "racial bigotry."

Many of Carranza’s natural allies have offered only mild support. The Times started off the school year with a polite editorial  endorsing the recommendations of an administration committee on diversity. The Daily News editorial board, meanwhile,  kicked off the start of classes  by admonishing him to focus more on poor reading and math scores. “Most classrooms where most kids sit don’t help kids master the basics, much less challenge them daily,” it pointed out.

And what about his boss? Carranza has doubtlessly said out loud the things about race and education that de Blasio believes. But the mayor has mostly been content to sit back, let his chancellor take the brickbats, and hide behind the panel he appointed to study the matter (besides, he’s been in Puerto Rico ).

Albany has been even less supportive. Stuyvesant High School, the school system’s crown jewel, admitted only seven black students out of 895 this year, which is plainly crazy. But Carranza’s support for dumping its admission test has triggered a massive backlash, and the measure, a political loser if ever there was one, went down the drain in the last legislative session.

So Carranza pursues his high-pitched battle bitterly opposed by his enemies and weakly supported by his friends. The racial minefield is a lonely place.
Here and There
The estimable Erik Engquist becomes senior managing editor at the Real Deal after 14 years at Crain’s New York… Ilana Ozernoy is the new global head of communications for Bloomberg Media… Steven Thomson becomes Associate Vice President of real estate at Kasirer LLC. He was previously programs and communications manager at Brooklyn Historical Society…. Jennifer Ablan  joins FT as its U.S. markets editor… Abbey Collins joins the MTA as chief communications officer. She was a director at the public affairs communications firm Kivvit… Chloe Arensberg becomes deputy Washington bureau chief at NBC News… Samantha Keith , previously a publicity coordinator at ABC News, becomes press secretary for the city’s Office of Small Business. 
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