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NYC Schools Chancellor Greets Staff, Talks Collaboration

Carmen Farina (credit: CBS 2)

Carmen Farina (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The new head of New York City’s schools met some of her staffers on Monday, telling them she wanted them to focus on communication, collaboration and on what’s working in the education system.

“We need to bring joy back,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said to a crowd of employees in the lobby in the Tweed Courthouse, which houses the Department of Education.

“What I was worried about was where was my army, and here you are,” said the former teacher and principal, who described herself as a “general.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Farina last week to lead the nation’s largest public school system, which educates 1.1 million students.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his schools chancellors boosted education spending and used policies such as using student test scores to measure teacher effectiveness and closing schools deemed to be failing.

De Blasio has criticized some of his predecessor’s education strategies, like the reliance on standardized tests. Among de Blasio’s ideas for the educational system is universal pre-kindergarten, paid for with a tax increase on the wealthy. That tax increase, which needs the approval of the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, faces an uncertain future.

Farina, who spent some time as a deputy chancellor in the Bloomberg administration, told her staff to talk about what’s working in the education system.

She said she’d have regular sessions for staffers to come and talk to her.

“I will communicate with you not only what we’re doing but why we’re doing it,” she said, asking for the employees to do the same. “Always remember to say please and thank you, especially to principals, they are the people who really need everything we can offer them.

“The kids of New York City are counting on us.”

Farina, 70, is the daughter of immigrants from Spain. She’s held positions including a teacher at Public School 29 in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn and later a principal at P.S. 6, a high-achieving school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

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