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New York City’s new schools chancellor Richard Carranza has faced criticism for the integration policies he’s pushing for in one of the nation’s most segregated school districts. But in an exclusive interview, he said he would stand his ground.

We’re New York City high school students serving as this season’s interns for the Miseducation podcast, co-produced by The Bell and The Hechinger Report. We sat down with Chancellor Carranza for this interview on February 4 to ask about a range of issues that concern students.

A veteran bilingual educator from Arizona, Carranza had previously served as superintendent of schools in San Francisco and, most recently, Houston. When he arrived in New York, Carranza was surprised.

“I didn’t expect the level of acceptance of the inequality that I have found in some corners of our city,” Carranza told us in a conference room at Tweed Courthouse, the NYC Department of Education headquarters.

We asked about his integration proposal for the city’s eight specialized high schools, which prompted one of Carranza’s longest answers. He said he’s had numerous conversations with lawmakers in Albany about passing controversial legislation that would eliminate the single-test admissions policy.

“There is not one psychometrician that has given an analysis that [the admissions test] is valid or reliable as a single criteria to identify talent for a student to go to a specialized school,” Carranza said, pointing out that no selective high school anywhere else in the country uses a single multiple-choice exam score as the sole factor in admissions. “Don’t get me started about the cottage industry that has sprouted up tutoring kids for the specialized high schools. People are making lots of money on the backs of our students, our immigrant students, our poor families.”

We asked about racial disparities in access to sports teams, which we reported on last year, and in student discipline, two issues that Carranza said “keep him up at night.” He also made it clear that giving more students opportunities to have their voices heard is a priority for him and his team.

Listen to the interview below and stay tuned for lots more from the Miseducation team this spring as we and our fellow interns continue reporting on inequity in the city’s schools.

This story about Richard Carranza was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for Hechinger’s newsletter.

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