December 30, 2013 / 6:11 PM / 5 years ago

REFILE-New York Mayor-elect de Blasio names former teacher to lead schools

(Changes ‘de Blasio’ to lower case in headline.)

NEW YORK, Dec 30 (Reuters) - New York City’s Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio on Monday named Carmen Farina, a longtime teacher and administrator, as the next chancellor of the nation’s largest public school system.

Farina, 70, will oversee teachers, implement policy and be in charge of curriculum for 1.2 million students in New York City. She will also advise city officials who are negotiating a new contract with teachers.

“Carmen has worked at nearly every level of this school system. She knows our students, teachers, principals and parents better than anyone, and she will deliver progressive change in our schools that lifts up children in every neighborhood,” de Blasio, who takes office on Jan. 1, said at a news conference.

De Blasio, a Democrat who has pledged to confront economic inequality, described Farina as a brilliant innovator and said he hopes to make a “powerful statement” to teachers by naming someone who rose from their ranks to the position of chancellor.

Farina spent 22 years as an elementary school teacher in Brooklyn, where she was recruited by the Board of Education to expand and help implement her successful reading curriculum.

She later became a core curriculum director, a regional superintendent and a deputy chancellor for teaching and learning at the Department of Education in 2004, where she developed strategies to help prepare middle school students for junior high school.

The daughter of immigrants from Spain, Farina said at the news conference that she would be an advocate for students for whom English is a second language.

“True change happens not through mandates and top-down decision making but through communication, collaboration and celebrating the successes along the way,” said Farina, who has advised de Blasio on education issues for more than a decade. “Raising the success rate of our students is the only goal.”

Outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will leave office on Dec. 31 after three terms, chose his schools chancellors from outside the school system. His first chancellor, Joel Klein, had been a prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice.

After Klein’s departure, Bloomberg named magazine executive Cathie Black, though she stepped down after three months on the job after making a series of blunders that her critics blamed on her inexperience.

Education has been a signature issue for de Blasio. On the campaign trail, he pledged, among other things, to push through a “millionaires tax” on the city’s highest earners to pay for universal access to pre-Kindergarten and after-school programs for middle schoolers. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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