De Blasio picks Benjamin Kleinstein to become New York City schools chancellor

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the selection Friday of Benjamin Kleinstein as Chancellor of the New York City schools, handing his office to a teacher, author and longtime civil rights activist—and the second former teacher in less than a month to fill the post.

Kleinstein, an educator for more than 40 years, will replace Carmen Fariña, who stepped down as Chancellor two weeks ago after 12 years in the job.

To fill the void left by Fariña, de Blasio appointed Shael Polakow-Suransky, the current executive director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights advocacy group, as Deputy Chancellor for Student Support and Services.

“I am pleased that I have chosen a distinguished educator and education expert who has dedicated his professional life to improving public education for New York City’s children,” the mayor said in a press release. “Benji brings extensive knowledge and a deep understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the school system, and I look forward to working with him to ensure we build on the tremendous progress the City has made in recent years in our efforts to ensure every child in the City receives a great education.”

Kleinstein, who has served as a principal and then superintendent of schools, is currently an assistant superintendent at the New York City Department of Education. Before his current post, he was the deputy commissioner for the New York City Department of Education and directed the Department of Education’s Race to the Top-Learning Series. In 1996, he became the first black CEO of a small school district in New York. His formal education career began in 1981 with the New York City Department of Education’s Schools Activities Office, and he later served as chief of curriculum, instruction and assessment in the city’s Department of Education.

In a statement released by the school system, Kleinstein said: “I am honored and humbled to be chosen by the Mayor as he leads the city’s school system forward. With the great work Carmen Fariña accomplished, I look forward to building on her work in shaping the future of New York City’s education system.”

De Blasio said Kleinstein had his “full support.”

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