City schools Chancellor Richard Carranza offered a semi-apology Monday for retweeting a story that cast Upper West Side parents opposed to a school desegregation plan as little more than wealthy white racists.
Embroiled in racially charged controversy barely a month into his tenure, Carranza said he would not have couched the matter so frankly.
“I retweeted, and that language was automatically generated, and if that has caused any kind of anger, I apologize for that,” Carranza said during an unrelated visit to a Queens school. “That is not the intent.”
The former San Francisco and Houston schools boss skydived into New York’s school segregation debate Friday when he retweeted a story headlined ‘Wealthy white Manhattan parents angrily rant against plan to bring more black kids to their schools.”
“I would not have said it that way,” Carranza said Monday, before promising more discretion in his tweeting habits.
The Raw Story article recapped a NY1 video showing some parents railing against putting lesser-performing kids into their children’s classrooms.
The city Department of Education has floated a plan that would reserve 25 percent of seats at coveted well-performing middle schools in the district for kids at worse local schools who score below grade level on state exams.
Critics at the meeting argued that the plan would exclude some of their kids who would have earned admission under the current system.
“You’re talking about an 11-year-old, ‘You worked your butt off, and you didn’t get that, what you needed or wanted,’” one woman rails in the meeting. “You’re telling them, ‘You’re going to go to a school that’s not going to educate you in the same way you’ve been educated. Life sucks!’ ”
The chancellor reiterated Monday that the commentary on the video was unacceptable.
“The video speaks for itself,” he said. “The comments that were made — I don’t know how anybody could be OK with that. I know that I’m not OK with that.”
Carranza personally commended Principal Henry Zymeck, who spoke in favor of plan at the meeting.
“There are kids that are tremendously disadvantaged, that I would love to be able to offer — somebody mentioned $5,000 worth of tutoring for to raise their test scores,” Zymeck said. “And to compare these students and say, ‘My already-advantaged kid needs more advantage! They need to be kept away from those kids!’ is tremendously offensive to me.”
Carranza promised to bring a “sense of urgency” to the issue during his already rollicking tenure.
“We have students that come through our door that are disadvantaged, and to not pay attention to that is just absolutely not acceptable,” he said Monday, adding that he thought the UWS plan was “modest.”
When pressed for the specifics of his overall desegregation vision, Carranza urged reporters to patiently let the process unfold.
“Listen, folks, take a breath,” the new New Yorker said. “The criticism of my predecessor, Chancellor [Carmen] Farina, was that she didn’t do anything about this. Here I am in my first month actually engaging in this conversation. … Let’s stop talking about a tweet and start talking about the issue — and the issue is segregated schools.”
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