By SAM RAPPAPORT
There is a cartoon-style scenario that the city’s new Schools Chancellor loves to recount as an illustration of how he defines equity. Three students are tasked with peering over a fence, the story goes. The first student is tall and needs only to stand upright to see past the blockade. The second student is slightly shorter and, in order to see over the fence, requires a small wooden block to stand on.
“And the third student is me—really short,” Chancellor Richard Carranza told an audience of parents on Tuesday during a town hall forum at Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows.
The third student requires a great boost to see over the fence. But once the varying degrees of assistance are provided, all of the three students share the same perspective.
“Equity is not about lowering the bar,” Carranza said. “It’s about providing students with what they need to succeed.”
During Carranza’s visit to Francis Lewis—which is part of his citywide “listening tour”—equity arose as an area of focus for the new chancellor. Carranza spent an hour in the school’s gymnasium with a select group of inquisitive middle and high school students from across the borough before walking down the hallway to the school’s auditorium, where he addressed a crowd of approximately 150 parents who were eager to assess the new man in charge of the city’s public schools.
In both his meetings with students and parents, Carranza suggested that the school system reevaluate its relationship with standardized testing.
“We should take another look at testing,” Carranza said. “Which ones can we cut out? It’s important we have a balance.”
Parents in attendance at Tuesday’s forum expressed gratitude for Carranza’s enthusiasm and fresh ideas. But some questioned his ability to take practical steps to turn his ideas into reality.
“I’m mostly happy, but I wanted much more information,” said Rachel Cole, an education researcher and parent of a PS 69 student. “I would like to know how the equity stuff is going to happen because taking resources away from wealthier communities is sure to be a politically divisive issue.”
Read the full story in this week’s Queens Tribune.
Reach reporter Sam Rappaport via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 123.