Ten things to know about Fairfax County’s next schools chief

Karen Garza, chief of the Lubbock Independent School District since 2009, was just tapped as the next superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools. Garza, the first woman to be selected for the job, will succeed Jack Dale this summer. Here are 10 things to know about her:

* She was born in Canyon in northern Texas, which has a total area of 4.9 square miles and has a population of less than 15,000 (according to the Census Bureau).

* She earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degrees from the University of Houston and a doctorate (with honors) from the University of Texas at Austin.

* She began her career as an educator teaching math and English Language Arts in pre-kindergarten through fifth grades.

* She has served as a principal, curriculum supervisor, a deputy superintendent (in Corpus Christi), Chief Academic Officer (in Houston) and superintendent (in Lubbock).

* She was a lobbyist for the Texas Association of School Administrators.

* As Lubbock superintendent, she was credited with improving the school system’s finances, graduation rates and standardized test scores.

* Under her leadership, the Lubbock Independent School District joined the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition in a lawsuit against the state that said funding for public schools in Texas was not equitable. She said repeatedly that Lubbock schools were shortchanged by the state.

* As superintendent in Lubbock, she supported a 2012 resolution passed by the Board of Education asking the Texas Legislature to reduce the number of high-stakes standardized tests students are forced to take. In a 2011 interview with the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, she said: “I fear we are over-testing students. I think we may be too focused on measuring outcomes and maybe need to look at new ways to measure.”

* A few weeks ago, she unveiled a new smart phone app — called Lubbock ISD — that parents praised as being helpful in providing information about their children’s schools, including a quick way to get in touch with a teacher, according to the Avalance-Journal.

* She is married and has two adult children, according to her bio on the Lubbock schools website.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · April 10, 2013