Carmen Fariña

Carmen Fariña (née Guillén; born April 5, 1943) is a former New York City Schools Chancellor and head of the New York City Department of Education. Announced by Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio on December 30, 2013,[1] she was the first New York City chancellor to have had schools supervision training and experience since Board of Education chancellor Rudy Crew.[citation needed]

Carmen Fariña
Portrait of Carmen Fariña
New York City Schools Chancellor
In office
January 1, 2014 – April 2, 2018
Appointed byBill de Blasio
Preceded byDennis Walcott
Succeeded byRichard Carranza
Personal details
Carmen Guillén

(1943-04-05) April 5, 1943 (age 78)
Brooklyn, New York
NationalityUnited States
Antonio Fariña Jr.
(m. 1965)

Fariña had been a teacher, principal, superintendent, and the Deputy Chancellor of Teaching and Learning from 2004 to 2006. In December 2017, Farina announced she would leave her position after a replacement was named.[2] She finished her term alongside the new Chancellor, Richard Carranza.[3]

Early life and educationEdit

Fariña was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Galician parents who fled Spain during the Spanish Civil War, Fariña was the only Spanish-speaker in her kindergarten class and learned English in school. The language barrier was so severe, that Fariña's "teacher marked her absent every day for six weeks because Carmen then surnamed Guillén, did not answer when the teacher, who was of Irish background, called Quillan during roll call."[4]

She was the first person in her family to attend college. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University and three master's degrees from Brooklyn College (bilingual education), Fordham University (gifted/arts education), and Pace University (administration and supervision).[citation needed]


Fariña started her career at P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, where she flourished as a classroom teacher specializing in the social sciences. Throughout her 22 years there, "she was beginning to make a name for herself across the city, pioneering a curriculum that blended social studies and literacy."[5] One of her students there was future novelist and professor Jonathan Lethem, who called her the "perfect" teacher and dedicated his first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, to her.[6]

As District 15's Core Curriculum coordinator, Fariña published her multicultural and interdisciplinary program, "Making Connections", a model the-then Board of Education replicated in every district in the city.[7]

From 1991 to 2001, Fariña served as principal of P.S. 6, replacing 80% of the staff there. Under her leadership, that school's ranking among public elementary schools on the citywide reading test rose from 76th to fourth from 1988 to 1997, with 91.8 percent of students classified as reading at grade level.[4][8]

During this time, she was also an adjunct professor at Bank Street College: P.S. 6 served as a model site for prospective principals, hosting more than 500 visitors a year.[8] She left P.S. 6 in 2001 after being elected community superintendent of Brooklyn's District 15.[9] She later served as superintendent of Region 8.[9] From 2004 to 2006, Fariña served as Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning at the New York City Department of Education, where she invested $40 million to expand programs for middle school students, including Saturday classes, organizational and study skills workshops, and parent counseling. She also improved services for students with disabilities.[8] In the summer of 2014, she announced her support of "balanced literacy", an English curriculum that emphasizes free reading and writing at the expense of teacher-led instruction.[10]

School ChancellorEdit

In March 2018, after Alberto M. Carvalho publicly turned down the job, Mayor de Blasio announced Richard Carranza would succeed Fariña as the next chancellor, with Fariña departing at the end of April.[11][12]


The New York Post condemned Farina in 2017 for restoring levels of bureaucracy that her predecessor, Joel Klein, under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, had eliminated, and for presiding over "diploma mills", referring to her "proudest achievement, boosting city high-school graduation rates to 72 percent" as "hollow" as "only 37 percent of those [high school] 'graduates' are ready for college."[13][14][15][16]

StudentsFirstNY, an independent pro-student public advocacy group, determined that “Diploma Mills are a serious problem”, that “College remediation in New York City is off the Charts”, and that the “de Blasio administration has no clear plan for schools with the worst college readiness rates”.[17]

Fariña was roundly criticized by New York media for a February 13, 2014 press conference alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio during a snowstorm, in which she stated, on a day which produced 10 inches of snow, "It's absolutely a beautiful day out here." Total snowfall for the storm was 13 inches in Manhattan; local schools remained open during the snow event.[18][19][20]

Personal lifeEdit

Carmen Guillén married Antonio Fariña Jr., an accountant, in 1965, in New York City.[21] They have two daughters.[22]


  1. ^ Hernández, Javier C. (December 29, 2013). "Veteran of City School System Is Said to Be Next Chancellor". The New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  2. ^ Shapiro, Eliza (December 21, 2017). "How Carmen Fariña sought to change America's largest school system one school at a time". Politico. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  3. ^ Harris, Elizabeth A.; Fernandez, Manny (March 18, 2018). "Is Richard Carranza Ready to Run America's Biggest School System?". New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Hartocollis, Anemona (February 24, 1999). "In School; A principal with a will of steel makes a public school as prestigious as a private one". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  5. ^ Hernández, Javier C. (January 14, 2014). "New York Schools Chancellor Honed Blunt Style Over 40 Years". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  6. ^ Shapiro, Eliza (December 30, 2013). "Jonathan Lethem says Fariña was a 'perfect' teacher". Politico. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  7. ^ Colvin, Jill (December 30, 2013). "Carmen Fariña Named Schools Chancellor". New York Observer. New York City: Observer Media. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "Chancellor Fariña and the Leadership Team: Chancellor Fariña". New York City Department of Education. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Herszenhorn, David M. (March 12, 2004). "A Troubleshooter With a Passion for Schools". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  10. ^ Nazaryan, Alexander (August 10, 2016). "Carmen Farina, New York City's School Chief, and the Perils of School Reform". Newsweek. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  11. ^ Taylor, Kate (March 5, 2018). "Next to Lead New York's Schools: An Educator With a Song on His Lips". Retrieved March 7, 2018 – via
  12. ^ Veiga, Christina (March 30, 2018). "Carmen Fariña says farewell after 52 years in New York City schools". Chalkbeat New York.
  13. ^ "Carmen Fariña shouldn't wait to quit". February 7, 2017. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  14. ^ Nazaryan, Alexander (August 10, 2016). "The perils of the American education reform movement". Newsweek.
  15. ^ Herszenhorn, David M. (July 1, 2005). "Principal Hid Fraud on Tests in Brooklyn, Officials Say".
  16. ^ "Cobble hill letter" (PDF).
  17. ^ "StudentsFirstNY's Report Exposes College Readiness Crisis at NYC High Schools". StudentsFirstNY. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  18. ^ McShane, Ben Chapman, Annie Karni, Caitlin Nolan, Larry. "De Blasio defends keeping schools open after storm, but even pals disagree". Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  19. ^ Fredericks, Bob; Gonen, Yoav (February 13, 2014). "Clueless schools chief: 'It's a beautiful day'". New York Post. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  20. ^ "Schools Chancellor Farina says it's an 'absolutely beautiful day' as she defends decision to keep schools open". WPIX. February 13, 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  21. ^ "Ancestry Library Edition". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  22. ^ Hernández, Javier C.; Baker, Al (April 18, 2018). "New York Schools Chancellor Honed Blunt Style Over 40 Years".

External linksEdit

Educational offices
Preceded by
Dennis Walcott
Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education
Succeeded by
Richard Carranza