Carmen Farina recently announced her retirement as School Chancellor New York City as head of the New York City Department of Education.
Carmen Farina was appointed by Mayor Bill DeBlasio in 2013. She was supposed to bring everything wonderful back to the largest public school system in the United States. She was the first Chancellor with schools supervision training and experience since Board of Education Chancellor, Rudy Crew, under the Rudy Giuliani administration, during the 1990s and 2000s. Because of her knowledge and soft temperament, she was considered by many as the “cure” for city public schools.
Farina was a teacher, principal, superintendent, and the Deputy Chancellor of Teaching and Learning from 2004 to 2006. She oversaw expansions of Pre-K and Saturday programs. She had a reputation of working well with union leadership and city government officials.
Did she work effectively on creating productive, inviting learning environments to Jewish students, their family members and staff? Many, including myself, think historians will look back at the Farina leadership as a failure. She will leave without successfully addressing the concerns and challenges of the Jewish community involved within the system. From seniors paying taxes, to staff members, and even Farina’s offices assisting families with busing and textbooks for private day schools, many find fault with how matters were handled when brought to her office’s attention.
Yeshivas Meeting State Standards
“Nearly two and a half years ago, Yaffed submitted a complaint to the DOE, signed by 52 Yeshiva graduates and parents, mainly Hasidic, alleging that at least the thirty nine Yeshivas they attended did not provide an education that meets state standards.
The city’s swift promise to investigate our claims proved to be nothing more than a charade as two and a half years have passed during which the city promised on several occasions that it will be releasing a report on its findings.
We recently learned that after more than two years into the so-called investigation, the DOE had only visited a total of six of the thirty nine Yeshivas,” Naftuli Moster, executive director of Yaffed, a non-profit advocacy group working to improve secular education standards in ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic Yeshivas.
I, and many others, find it troubling that Farina and DeBlasio were influenced by anti-Israel, anti-Zion activist, Linda Sarsour. Sarsour’s influence changed the school calendar and what lessons about Islam were shared within the required curriculum.
The Zionist Organization Of America has previously reported that Sarsour openly supports the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel; opposes the Jewish State of Israel’s right to exist; expresses her unbridled hatred on Twitter with statements such as “Nothing is creepier than Zionism” and “[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is a waste of a human being”.
Many have no problem with the fact that two Islamic holidays were added to the school calendar as days off in 2015. The holidays, Eid-al-Adha and Eid-al-Fitr, compare to our Rosh Hashanah observance, although rumors are circulating that within the near future, those days may no longer be school holidays for all.
There is even have no problem with teaching lessons about Islam. However, the ratio of lessons on Islam outweigh other religions. Facts are often distorted, if not out right lies. Many classes do not mention radical terror attacks. An example being September 11th. While the attacks on the World Trade Center are taught, the facts surrounding who and why the event took place are often “sugar-coated” so that nobody feels uncomfortable despite changing actual information. Many classes distort history lessons about Israel and the Holocaust. There is not enough oversight to oversee each lesson, classroom or school.
I have heard from educators that they teach the Holocaust by assigning the reading of The Diary of Anne Frank. Educators who state this do not realize how silly they sound or how wrong this statement is. Anne Frank is not a detailed, complete lesson of the Holocaust. Many other lessons fail to explain the history of Palestine and Israel correctly, and are also filled with ideas, not accurate details, especially when it comes to 1948 and the conflict today.
No wonder why are college campuses are filled with anger, violence and hate!
Principals and Their Anti–Semitic Remarks
*Greta Hawkins, PS90, “I’m black. Your previous principal was white and Jewish. More of us are coming.”
*Antonio K’Tori, PS15, told a white, Jewish teacher he was hurting “his little black children”
*Rushell White, MS226, told a white, Jewish teacher he was a “bad Jew.”
These are a few of the documented incidents where Jewish teachers were harassed. Despite multiple complaints to the NYCDOE authorities of those named above, it took four years to remove Hawkins from her school and both K’Tori and White retain their positions, six-figure salaries and extra benefits.
All this, despite a policy of teaching “Respect For All” implemented by the NYCDOE.
As leader of the country’s largest school system, Farina announced her retirement at a standing room only press conference. She proudly “pat herself on the back” claiming she “brought back dignity to teaching, joy to learning and trust to the system.”
We need our next Chancellor to addresses the needs of all taxpayers, including those that pay taxes and pay private tuitions, Jewish families that need to utilize special need services within the NYCDOE and the thousands who make up the Jewish population in public school student bodies, staff and community participants.
“Education is a nonpartisan issue that needs bipartisan support and is paid for with your tax dollars”
Cindy Grosz is a education activist. She is a regular contributor to multiple media outlets.