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Meisha Porter Stepping Down As New York City Schools Chancellor

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter announced Wednesday she is stepping down, clearing the decks for Mayor-elect Eric Adams to make good on his promise to revamp the Department of Education and change learning priorities for the nearly 1 million students in city public schools.

CBS2's Marcia Kramer has some insights on what's next.

The first thing that city parents need to know is that David Banks, the founder of the all-boys Eagle Academy, a hybrid of public and charter school models, is reportedly the leading contender to be the next schools chancellor.

He has already started meeting with education experts like Leonie Haimson, who told him the most important thing to do to improve education is reduce class size.

"There are over 300,000 kids in classes of 30 or more, so more than one-third of all kids are in classes of 30 or more, when we have the highest needs kids in the state, the most kids in poverty, the most kids of color. Outside New York City, class sizes average about 20 to 22 in all grades," Haimson said.

Haimson heads a group called Class Size Matters, so it stands to reason that when she met with Banks, reportedly Mayor-elect Adams' current favorite to head the school system, she told him that smaller classes were the key to improving education.

Her plea, in direct response to what Adams told Kramer the day after he was elected, is that the city does a terrible job of educating kids, especially minority kids.

"We're getting an inferior product. That just doesn't make sense. That's a height of dysfunctionality, and that's not going to continue under the administration of Eric Adams," the mayor-elect said on Nov. 3.

Adams will have a unique opportunity to remake the school system because a combination of state and federal aid will dump an additional $8 billion into the system. Adams wants to spend it wisely, saying he will look to end the bloated bureaucracy created by former Chancellor Richard Carranza, and make sure the agency spends its money carefully.

Haimson said that's the right way to go.

"Clearly, there has to be much more attention given to the waste that happens every single day at the Department of Education, with very little oversight," Haimson said.

She is no fan of outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio's educational prescription -- a longer school day and a longer school year.

Kramer asked de Blasio, who brought pre-K and 3-K programs to New York City, about Adams' contention that the Department of Education has to step up its game.

"His impulse to say we need to keep doing better, I agree with that. We all know there's a long way to go in terms of improving education," de Blasio said.

Both the mayor and outgoing Chancellor Porter talked about how COVID-19 changed learning in the city, offering more remote options.

"The next challenge is going to be how I can take the hundreds of thousands of devices and WiFi that we put in young people's hands and really make it a vehicle to expand learning across New York City," Porter said.

And with the pandemic still very much with us, the Delta and Omicron variants still of great concern, the next mayor will have to take steps to guarantee the safety of students and teachers as in-person learning continues.

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