Year in Review 2010: Urban School District Leadership in Transition
What do Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C. all have in common? In 2010, the heads of these major urban school districts-superintendents, chancellors and CEOs-either resigned, were fired, or announced that they'd be out the door come 2011. If you're looking for a job in school district, these cities might just be hiring.
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Atlanta's been rocked by a scandal over widespread allegations of cheating on standardized tests. In the aftermath, the Atlanta Journal Constitution called for the resignation of schools superintendent, Beverly Hall. In a surprise capitulation, Hall told board members she'll exit when her contract ends next June. The paper, and many community members want her gone before the new year.
After Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced that he wouldn't seek re-election, his appointed head of the city's schools, Ron Huberman, handed in his resignation. Officially, Huberman said he wants to spend more time with his family and move into the private sector. Unofficially, Huberman didn't want to wait for the inevitable firing by Daley's replacement.
Rampant corruption and dismal student achievement results led to the 2009 takeover of the Detroit Public Schools by the State of Michigan. Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Robert C. Bobb as Emergency Financial Manager for the city's school system. Bobb decided he could also make academic decisions - but a Michigan court ruled in early December that the Detroit School Board is back in charge. Bobb's term is set to expire in early 2011.
What happens in Vegas doesn't stay always stay under wraps, especially when it comes to former Las Vegas Public Schools head Richard Romero. The city's school board suspended Romero after an, "unspecified violation of the district's computer-use policy." At the end of the suspension period, Romero resigned instead of returning to work.
The most drama-free school leader departure comes from the City of Angels. After the appointment of senior Gates Foundation official John Deasy as deputy superintendent, speculation grew that 78 year-old Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines would resign before the end of his contract. In July Cortines-who's also headed the San Francisco and New York City Schools-formally announced plans to leave LAUSD in spring 2011.
The most controversial change in school leadership comes from the nation's largest school district, New York City. After chancellor Joel Klein shockingly resigned in November to go be an executive at News Corporation, the city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg appointed the head of Hearst Corporation, Cathie Black. The outrage-and lawsuits-over Black's appointment will undoubtedly continue in 2011.
With the ousting of Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, his hand picked schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee, also didn't wait to be fired. The Waiting for 'Superman'" star showed herself the door-and has since gone on to join Florida Governor-elect Rick Scott's education team and started an education advocacy group, Students First.