‘I wish I knew how to quit you,” “Brokeback Mountain’s” Jack tells his illicit lover. Our schools-chancellor-to-be-and-then-not-to-be, Alberto Carvalho, knew how to quit us, and fast. A day after Mayor de Blasio announced Carvalho was leaving a similar position in Miami to take the job, Carvalho said that he wouldn’t come, after all.
Carvalho says he is “breaking an agreement between adults to honor an agreement and a pact I have with the children of Miami.” Sob. Here are the top 10 more likely explanations:
10. Nobody told him New York City has that many kids. Miami-Dade County has 345,000 public-school students. New York has 1.1 million. Sure, New York promised to match his $353,000 salary in Miami. But on a per-student basis, that’s a raw deal.
8. He realized that after paying his rent and his taxes, he wouldn’t have any money left to pay his electric bill.
Florida has no income tax. New York’s tax rate for someone earning in the mid-six figures is close to 11 percent. That’s a roughly $30,000 difference, even after deductions.
7. He heard that Mayor de Blasio might be cracking down on parking placards for government officials. Even after 30 years as an educator, he realized that without a placard, he’d never figure out alternative-side parking.
And who wants to take the subway — when 37 percent of subway trains arrive late?
And what kind of message does it send to our schoolchildren to stigmatize one train by giving it a permanent label of “F”?
6. He figured out that New York doesn’t go for personality cults. Schoolchildren spontaneously — sure — greet Carvalho with hugs and flowers, and burst into tears on camera last Thursday at the thought of him ever abandoning them. Rap star Luther Campbell stood up at an emergency school-board meeting, voice breaking, saying that “to lose this man would be a travesty.”
In New York, our rap stars and our kids are too busy to care about who the schools chancellor is. Bloomberg-era schools chief Joel Klein devoted eight years to improving kids’ lives, and nobody fell at his feet begging him to stay when he said he was leaving.
Carvalho could raise our graduation rate to 100 percent and have every child going to Yale, but nobody’s going to treat him with adulation. Our press and our public will grouchily question the numbers and ask what else has he done for us lately.
5. Even the chancellor has to stand on line for “Hamilton” tickets at 6 a.m.
4. He learned that New York’s nearest beach is an hour away . . . by that F train.
3. He was disturbed by the term “mayoral control.” He was also told he’d have to work out with the mayor three times a week in Brooklyn.
2. He misheard the lyrics to the Frank Sinatra song, and thought that if you can make it anywhere else, you don’t have to bother making it here.
1. No one in New York votes in Miami. Carvalho, with political ambitions, clearly has a flair for the dramatic, and it’s hard not to suspect he played de Blasio for a fool.
Here, Carvalho looks like a narcissist governed by his emotions.
There, he’s an even bigger hero than he was before. In Miami, Carvalho has just demonstrated to potential voters that desperate New York City tried and tried, but couldn’t tear him away.
After Carvalho’s about-face, the Miami Herald opined that “the community breathed a collective sigh of relief after waiting . . . to exhale,” because “Carvalho has lifted the schools by lifting the students within.”
The paper noted, though, that Carvalho’s two-day stunt had “sent the unmistakable message to school board members who have . . . demanded more accountability from the superintendent” that “he has the community’s overwhelming support.” It’s more fun to be loved in Miami than to wake up to a new and unpredictable headache every day in New York.
This piece originally appeared in the New York Post