Latinos Celebrate New Schools Chancellor In Sunset Park

Parents, students and community leaders rolled out more than just the red carpet, they brought a whole mariachi band to celebrate new Chancellor of Schools Richard Carranza last night at Sunset Park High School.

The new head of the Department of Education (DOE) was welcomed with open arms and a whole Mexican festival in his honor with the city’s first Mexican-American City Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) and Consul General of Mexico, Ambassador Diego Gómez Pickering serving as hosts. 

From left are Mexican Consel General, Ambassador Diego Gomez Pickering, Chancellor of Schools Richard Carranza and City Councilman Carlos Menchaca. Photo by Kelly Mena

Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Carranza back in March after the former Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s decision in December to step down as the top education official. Carranza will now oversee the city’s 1,800 schools and 1.1 million students.

“What a special evening tonight that we get to meet the new chancellor. It is such a pleasure for me to welcome the highest ranked Mexican-American in the Administration. He has been out talking to parents and kids and our kids have had a lot to say. But he has been listening and he knows that together we will work together on so many things that we need in our community,” said Menchaca.

Carranza went on to commit himself to fighting for the Latino community and listening to their specific educational challenges.  

“I said don’t worry, there’s another Mexicano coming to town. It’s very important that you know we have a voice, not only in New York City, but in America. I want to let you know that I don’t come to this role having all the answers, far from that. What I’ve come here to do is have a conversation. I come to you with a very open heart and to understand the needs of this community and every community across the five boroughs” said Carranza.

Carranza, a fluent Spanish-speaker, then went on to highlight his fight to protecting all minority students in classrooms across the city.

“I’m also going to call it how I see it. If there is discrimination, we are going to call it discrimination. I am so proud that city schools value diversity and we value an English language learner, who is not a deficit,” added Carranza.

NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, right, meeting with local residents in Sunset Park. Photo by Kelly Mena

The new leader of schools went on to ensure the crowd that he was going to stand proud next to them when it came to federal legislation that might affect immigrant families. Carranza is hoping to use his platform to show the Trump Administration the value of immigrants and their ability to succeed in the U.S.

“Together united, we are going to make sure that people feel our presence and we aren’t going anywhere,” concluded Carranza.

P.S. 120 Principal Liza Caraballo Suarez said Carranza give Latinos and other minorities a new hope and a fresh authoritative face that reflects the city’s diversity.

“Carranza gives minorities and different types of cultures the feeling that someone is hearing them. It is also a face that reflects them and they can see themselves through. I think this is an opportunity for him to listen to the minority population and more importantly putting resources into schools where all students can excel,” said Suarez.

Local resident and Mexican immigrant Laura Xochitecatl echoed these thoughts, saying Carranza’s appointment will help her daughter take pride in her Mexican heritage.

“I feel very proud to have Carranza as the top education head. For us as Hispanics this is a step forward for our community. Everything he’s doing is giving us an opportunity to open a door to ensure our children have a secure future. What he is proposing is like a safety net that will give our children the same educational opportunities as all kids in the school system,” said Xochitecatl.

Carranza, an accomplished mariachi musician, closed the ceremony with a performance of traditional Mexican folk music with an entire mariachi band behind him for the dozens of people in the crowd.

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