Update: Carvalho turned down the job in dramatic fashion later on Thursday. More here.
Will Alberto Carvalho take the job he’s been offered running New York City’s schools? Two hours into an emergency school board meeting where he was expected to announce his departure from the Miami-Dade district, the answer remains unclear.
The meeting seems designed to maximize drama. For hours, school board members, local leaders, educators, and even students lavished praise on the man who has led their school system for the last decade — and begged him to stay.
“Mr. Carvalho, I would just say that your work is not done. There are so many things that we have to tackle,” said board member Lubby Navarro. “I don’t see anyone else in your seat.”
The exhortations included recitations of song lyrics — ”Please don’t go,” one student said, citing the classic KC and the Sunshine Band song — and Rudyard Kipling’s coming-of-age poem “If,” as well as a student who asked for a hug.
“I don’t want to hold you back from pursuing your dreams, but I don’t want to see you go,” the student said, bounding onto the dais and embracing Carvalho.
The crowd broke into multiple standing ovations, and Carvalho appeared to get teary-eyed as business leaders, union representatives and community advocates pleaded with him to reconsider. Some speakers seemed to believe they could persuade him to reject New York’s offer with their passion alone.
“He’s not going to leave us. We will make sure of that,” said board member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall nearly two hours into the meeting. “We will fight. We will fight. We will fight.”
Brooke Baitinger contributed reporting from Miami.