Phil Weinberg, 35-year veteran of NYC education department, to retire

Phil Weinberg, who has overseen the education department’s division of teaching and learning under two chancellors, announced Friday that he is stepping down.

“This has been a very difficult decision for me, but one that I have been thinking about for some time,” Weinberg wrote in a letter to education department staffers.

The education department will open Weinberg’s position, Deputy Chief Academic Officer for Teaching and Learning, in a public search, officials said. Until then, another department official, Alice Brown, will occupy the role. Brown has worked for the education department since 1997 as a teacher, a principal, and executive director in the Office of School Support before her current role, officials said.

Weinberg, whose career in the city’s education department began as a teacher in 1984, rose through the ranks to eventually oversee efforts to improve instruction and oversee some of the mayor’s most visible education initiatives.

Weinberg began at John Dewey High School before leaving for Brooklyn’s High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology — and wound up staying for 27 years. After rising to principal in 2001, Weinberg ran Telly “like the beloved mayor of a close-knit town” as the New York Times once put it, building “learning communities” within the school that helped shepherd students to graduation.

In 2014, Chancellor Fariña plucked him from that post to head up a resurrected “teaching and learning” division that had been dormant for years.

[Related: What NYC’s departing instructional guru learned overseeing the nation’s largest school system]

His tenure got off to a rocky start, with some early staff turnover under his watch. But he was seen as a key hire to advise Chancellor Fariña on the high school world, where she had less direct experience. He also managed several of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s early education initiatives, including making computer-science classes available to all students by 2025.

After Fariña exited the department and was replaced last year by Chancellor Richard Carranza, Weinberg’s role become less senior as part of a broader reorganization. Instead of reporting directly to the chancellor, he reported to Chief Academic Officer Linda Chen. The division of teaching and learning no longer has a deputy chancellor level position.

“Phil has been a tireless champion for students, educators, and our city for 35 years,” Carranza said in a statement. “We will all miss his spirit, vast knowledge, and dedication to the work. He is an educator’s educator and true public servant who has made a real difference in the lives of countless New Yorkers, and we thank him for his leadership and wish him great things in his retirement.”

He currently oversees the offices of leadership; teacher development; curriculum, instruction and professional learning; policy and evaluation; and postsecondary readiness, officials said.

You can read Weinberg’s full letter to education department staffers here:

Reema Amin contributed.