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NYC Set to Name Alberto Carvalho Chancellor of Nation’s Largest School District; ‘World-Class Educator’ & Leading Critic of Trump’s Immigration Policies

By Mark Keierleber | February 28, 2018

Photo credit: Jimmy Abraham, courtesy of Miami-Dade schools

After a decade as the Miami schools superintendent, prominent education leader Alberto Carvalho has been offered the job as New York City schools chancellor, overseeing America’s largest and highest-profile school district, with more than 1 million students.

The news comes two months after Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced she would retire early this year after four years as chancellor. Fariña was persuaded in 2013 to come out of retirement to lead Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Education Department, where she executed a widely praised expansion of universal pre-K and implemented the city’s Renewal Schools program to turn around its lowest-performing schools. Nearing the end of its third year, the troubled $582 million undertaking has brought widespread criticism.

John Schuster, a spokesman at Miami-Dade County Public Schools, confirmed to The 74 Wednesday that de Blasio’s office had offered Carvalho the job, though Schuster said his boss had not yet accepted the offer. Carvalho, 53, is scheduled to address the school board in Miami at 10 a.m. tomorrow. Schuster said Carvalho will not provide public comments about the offer until after that meeting concludes.

In a statement Wednesday, de Blasio called Carvalho “a world-class educator with an unmatched track record of success.”

“I am very confident that our extensive, national search has found New York City the best person to lead the nation’s largest school system into the future,” he said. “I look forward to welcoming our new chancellor to New York City in the days ahead, and to working with him in the years ahead as we deepen achievement in our classrooms and build on the outstanding record of accomplishment that Chancellor Fariña has delivered for students and their families across the five boroughs.”

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Carvalho was named national superintendent of the year in 2014 by his peers and has been credited with improving graduation rates and school performance in the country’s fourth-largest school district while expanding school choice. He founded iPreparatory Academy, a magnet school with a special focus on technology, in the high school and international studies in the lower grades and served as the school’s principal at the same time he was superintendent.

“What I am proving is, No. 1: One size fits none,” Carvalho told The 74 in 2015. “A need creates schools that provide for independent, personalized, individualized learning journeys for all students.”

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Carvalho, a Portuguese immigrant who grew up in poverty, came to the U.S. — New York City, in fact — as an undocumented teen in the 1980s speaking no English.

“I remember landing in New York City, JFK International Airport, and the rest is history,” Carvalho told The 74 last year. “I remember some of my first jobs in this country. I spent a lot of time scrubbing pots and pans in sweaty kitchens in the city, I was a construction day laborer carrying cement and sand and brick, and I did anything from asphalting in South Florida to roofing. I painted places, homes, bused tables, waited on tables, which tells us once again that the American dream that we discuss so much is a real dream that is achievable.”

He has led Miami’s public school system since 2008, and in 2012 the district won the Broad Prize for Urban Education. The $1 million prize, given out by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, recognizes public school districts that have demonstrated the greatest improvement while narrowing the achievement gap for low-income students and students of color.

Carvalho has sparred with President Donald Trump over immigration issues, making news last year when he said, “Over my dead body will any federal entity enter our schools to take immigration actions against our kids.” Last year, rumors circulated that he was considering a bid for Congress.

Jenny Sedlis, executive director of pro-charter advocacy group StudentsFirstNY, said she hopes Carvalho will be “the independent leader that public school children desperately need.”

“We extend our best wishes for his success and we look forward to working together to expand school choice and improve teacher effectiveness,” she said. “After four years and half a billion dollars on a failed school turnaround program, NYC students need a leader who will work with urgency to give them the quality of schools they deserve.”

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement he looks forward to working with Carvalho, “who has had a collaborative relationship with his district’s teaching staff.”

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Disclosure: The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation provides financial support to The 74.

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