Exclusive: Meisha Ross Porter Begins Tenure As New York City Schools Chancellor

Meisha Ross Porter is the first Black woman to lead New York City's public schools. She has a daunting task ahead of her, as Mayor de Blasio hopes most students are back in the classroom by fall. CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports.

Video Transcript

KRISTINE JOHNSON: It was one year ago today when New York City schools shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Welcome back, I'm Kristin Johnson.

MAURICE DUBOIS: I'm Maurice DuBois. And today, Meisha Ross Porter began her tenure as the first Black woman to lead the city's public schools.

KRISTINE JOHNSON: She has a daunting task ahead, as Mayor de Blasio hopes most students return to class in-person by the fall. CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas spoke exclusively with her about her plans.

- We're elated to have you and your team visiting us at PS15.

MEISHA ROSS PORTER: Yes!

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: On day one as chancellor of New York City's public schools, Meisha Ross Porter set the tone by touring PS15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn, seeing firsthand the impact of the pandemic she's now responsible for navigating.

DELILAH MENDEZ: Does anyone in our virtual classroom want to share with Chancellor Porter what movement they stand for?

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Teacher Delilah Mendez expertly engaged her students, despite half of her class learning remotely at the same time-- one of many signs of the obstacles ahead.

MEISHA ROSS PORTER: I think it starts with getting them back in school and getting their families comfortable with them being here.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: High schools reopen on the 22nd, and planning for a more robust summer school is underway.

MEISHA ROSS PORTER: I see the summer as an opportunity to build a really strong enrichment program to bring our students back in.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: The reality is that students are falling behind.

MEISHA ROSS PORTER: One of the things that we've learned from this pandemic is how to leverage technology to develop individual learning plans for students, that identify and address their learning gaps.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Collaboration is central to Chancellor Porter's strategy.

- We're thrilled to have you here.

MEISHA ROSS PORTER: Thank you.

- And thrilled for what you're going to do for New York City.

MEISHA ROSS PORTER: Thank you. What we're going to do.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: How do you take care of educators right now when the students have so many needs?

MEISHA ROSS PORTER: Look, we're going to come back in schools, where people haven't been together and they've experienced loss. And they haven't had a moment to grieve that loss, and so we have to take a pause and acknowledge that as we build our school system back together.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: A challenge this New York City public school graduate, longtime educator, and first Black woman to serve as chancellor says she's ready for.

What do you tell your younger self?

MEISHA ROSS PORTER: My wish to little Meisha is to know every moment in your life has led to this moment right now, so you can show up for all of the little girls and all of the little boys in this whole city.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Aundrea Cline-Thomas, CBS 2 News.

KRISTINE JOHNSON: And there is more from Chancellor Porter's interview. You can watch it on our streaming platform, CBSN New York, or on our website, CBSNewYork.com.