New York native Meisha Ross Porter was named the next chancellor of NYC Public Schools, the nation’s largest public school district. She will be the first Black woman to serve in this role for the city.
The news came Friday (February 26) as the previous chancellor, Richard Carranza announced his resignation.
“I promise we’ll do everything to reopen schools, starting with high schools, we’re ready to go,” Porter said during a news conference. Porter’s appointment comes just 10 months before mayor Bill de Blasio leaves office. A new mayor may select another chancellor, but Porter’s work will require the unprecedented task of getting students back to classrooms and expanding learning options during the coronavirus pandemic. In NYC, elementary and middle schools reopened, but high schools have remained closed since November.
“We’ll expand learning opportunities and do more to address trauma and academic needs, because we know that that is very real,” Porter added.
School stakeholders are supportive of Porter’s appointment, given her deep connection to the city, its schools, and families.
“For the first time in a number of chancellors, principals and superintendents are gonna feel like they have a friend, someone to talk to and someone who understands them,” Richard Kahan, founder of the nonprofit Urban Assembly that has set up 23 public schools across the city. Kahan also hired Porter for her first teaching job.
Porter, who grew up in South Jamaica, Queens, began teaching at Urban Assembly’s Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice. She spent nearly two decades at the school, during which she became its principal, and revered for her ability to connect with students.
From there, in 2015, Porter became a regional superintendent for Bronx District 11. In 2018, Carranza selected Porter as an executive superintendent, which put her in charge of all Bronx schools.
School leaders and parent advocacy groups have also taken note of Porter’s hands-on approach, especially during the pandemic.
“Whatever it takes to get things done, this is what Meisha will do and I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” school principal Luis Torres told Chalkbeat. “That’s why people appreciate her, because even though she was the executive superintendent, she gets her hands dirty, and she’s never forgotten where she came from.”
So far during the pandemic, Porter has worked with schools to expand their data gathering capacity to determine if students routinely missed submitting assignments due to a lack of technology availability. She got parent advocacy groups in the room for equity planning meetings in the district. And many are looking forward to the experience she brings to the table.
Photo Credit: Ed Reed /Mayoral Photography Office