New NYC Schools Chancellor Porter talks ending ‘digital divide,’ adding social workers to schools

Reopening Schools

NEW YORK — New York City’s new schools chancellor Meisha Ross Porter took a five-borough tour during the first week of her new job. 

Porter is a New York City public school graduate and 20-year veteran with the Department of Education.

Thursday, she met with students and staff at BELL Academy in Queens and spoke to PIX11 News about why her historical appointment as the first Black woman to lead the city’s public school system is so important.

“As the mother of daughters, I understand how important it is to be an example, but I also understand it allows me to bring all those voices to the table as a mother and as a Black woman, but also as a teacher, assistant principal and all the roles I’ve played in the system,” she said.

Her last role was as executive superintendent in the Bronx; now, while she has a lot of ground to cover, she’s focusing on reopening schools safely, reintegrating students academically and emotionally into classrooms and ending the digital divide and systemic segregation in the school system.

“I’m not going to shy away from race, segregation that’s real in our system and we need to interrupt it,” she said.

Porter said 150 social workers will be added in the schools hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What I’ve been doing really is talking to the leadership about what are we really dong to bridge the gap between academic and social, emotional learning,” she added.

The mother, educator and now leader of more than 1,700 public schools said it all started for her in Queens.

“I hung out at Baisley Park, I’m a Queens girl through and through,” she said.

Now, she has the future of 1.1 million students in her hands.

“As I walk through schools, it feels like the right thing to do at the right moment, there’s a lot to do but when you see the faces of young people, it just makes the ‘why’ clear and real,” she said.

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