NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has embarked on a five-day, five-borough tour to familiarize himself with New York City’s sprawling education system.
On Monday, Day 1, he was in the Bronx, and CBS2’s Marcia Kramer was there.
He’s a mariachi singer by trade, so adding his voice to the “Daisy” song in one of the classes at the Concord Village Elementary School in the Bronx wasn’t much of a challenge. Carranza participated with gusto.
At his first press conference as chancellor the mission seemed to be avoiding hitting a false note. It was his first solo press conference without the watchful eye of Mayor Bill de Blasio. Carranza, who has bragged that there is little daylight between him and the the mayor, was still careful, explaining his lack of specifics.
“I’m on fact-finding mode. I’m just observing, asking lots of questions,” Carranza said.
So, thorny issues, like his position on charter schools, ending segregated schools, and students who live in homeless shelters will have to wait until Carranza has an opportunity to get his arms around a system with 1,800 schools, 1.1 million students and 75,000 teachers.
Still, CBS2’s Kramer tried.
Kramer: “In the wake of Parkland, many parents have called for locking school doors after the kids arrive. I wonder where you come down on that and if you think there are other measures that should be taken to make sure kids are safe.”
Carranza: “School safety is of paramount concern to us in the Department of Education. That being said, we have the ability and, actually, we’re very fortunate to work with the most highly qualified security experts on the planet, it’s called NYPD.”
The chancellor said he would meet with Police Commissioner James O’Neill to hammer out safety initiatives.
“Some of them tweaking them. Some of them perhaps new. But we’ve also put on the list these issues about securing doors, when to secure doors, about egress,” Carranza said.
Kramer also asked Carranza about the state potentially legalizing marijuana.
Kramer: “The state is thinking about legalizing marijuana. I wonder how you feel about it and do you feel it has a any implications for schools, especially high schools?”
Carranza: “We think that all students should refrain from any substances that are not prescription in nature.”
Kramer: “So would you tell the state, the governor and the Legislature not to legalize it?”
Carranza: “Probably once I’m asked I would have a conversation with them.”
For a man who last ran the Houston Independent School District, which has one-fifth the number of students of New York, getting the hang of the big city might require some fancy footwork.
The chancellor will visit schools in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island before the end of the week.