The incoming chancellor of New York City public schools has a history of making controversial statements and recently promoted a tweet that implies America was “built on lies.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D.) tapped Bronx superintendent Meisha Ross Porter to take the helm of the nation’s largest school district Friday following the abrupt resignation of Chancellor Richard Carranza. Like Carranza, Porter is a controversial figure whose “disrupt and dismantle“ approach to race and public education has ruffled quite a few feathers.
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Porter encouraged New York University dean of equity David E. Kirkland to “speak the truth” on Twitter in September after Kirkland issued a fiery endorsement of critical race theory, the idea that American government and economic systems are inherently racist.
“Critical Race Theory is the audacity to tell the truth in places built on lies,” Kirkland tweeted. “This truth will make us free, though there are some who don’t want us free and are willing to sever a nation to ensure we stay chained.”
Porter’s time as superintendent was marked by conflict and controversy. Two separate lawsuits accuse her of discriminating against Jewish and white teachers. And Bronx school district official Rafaela Espinal has accused Porter of firing her for not participating in the “Wakanda Forever” salute, a gesture from the movie Black Panther that Porter frequently used to end meetings.
Espinal said Porter disciplined her for not being “black enough.”
The Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools is currently looking into a $45,000 gala Porter held in honor of her birthday and promotion to superintendent, the New York Post reported.
During his time as chancellor, Carranza faced two lawsuits in which four female leaders accused him of pushing them out of their positions because they were white.
Carranza and de Blasio banded together three years ago to propose changes to the admissions process for a handful of the city’s elite academic high schools, which they claimed gave an unfair advantage to white and Asian students.
But the two leaders clashed over other school desegregation policies, the New York Times reported, including over a selective admissions test designed to funnel high-performing elementary school students into advanced classes. Carranza sought to abolish the tests as de Blasio focused on reopening schools for in-person instruction during the coronavirus pandemic.
Carranza was also friendly to critical race theory. In 2019, the chancellor hosted a “white supremacy culture” training session for his school administrators.
Porter will take over as chancellor in March, following Carranza’s official departure.