He was hired in a hurry, after the mayor’s first choice, Alberto M. Carvalho, the superintendent in Miami, turned down the job on national television. Mr. Carranza was appointed a few days later.
From his first news conference as chancellor, it was clear that he was much more willing to speak forcefully about school segregation than his boss. And a few months after he took office, it appeared that his oratory might translate into action. In June 2018, the mayor and chancellor announced a plan to get rid of the selective admissions exam that dictates entry into the city’s elite high schools, including Stuyvesant High School and The Bronx High School of Science.
Black and Latino students are extremely underrepresented in those schools, and low-income Asian-American children are overrepresented. Some Asian-American politicians and families were insulted that they were not consulted about the plan, and many took offense to Mr. Carranza’s clumsy defense of the proposal. “I just don’t buy into the narrative that any one ethnic group owns admission to these schools,” he said shortly after it was announced.
A major backlash to the plan, led by Asian-Americans, quickly killed the mayor and chancellor’s hopes of replacing the specialized school admissions exam. The parents who fought to keep the exam in place have since become Mr. Carranza’s harshest and most consistent critics. Before the pandemic, a group of families followed the chancellor to all of his public appearances, chanting “Fire Carranza!” and accusing him of bias against their children.
Mr. de Blasio’s administration has not created major new integration policies since that humiliating political defeat in 2018. The pandemic, however, forced the mayor to announce some changes to selective admissions policies late last year, including abolishing a rule that gave students in some of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods first dibs at selective high schools there. Mr. Carranza and his senior aides had been pushing the mayor for years to get rid of that geographic preference, which applied to students living on the Upper East Side, the West Village and Tribeca.
Mr. Carranza’s language about integration has often directly contradicted Mr. de Blasio’s stance, which has consistently irritated the mayor and his press team. The chancellor has a habit of speaking off the cuff on a range of issues.
Just a few days after he started on the job, Mr. Carranza called the idea behind the mayor’s nearly $800 million school improvement program, called Renewal, “fuzzy.” The chancellor later had to defend the program, even after the city canceled it after disappointing results. That trend has continued to the final days of Mr. Carranza’s tenure.