Starr, Alonso: Candidates for NYC schools chancellor?

ROCKVILLE, MD - DECEMBER 13:Second Grader Diego Rodriguez in a near whisper tells Montgomery County Superintendent Joshua Starr the project he's working on at Wheaton Woods Elementary School Thursday, December 13, 2012 in Rockville, MD. Starr is an emerging voice against traditional thinking in education reform.(Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
Second-grader Diego Rodriguez talks to Montgomery County schools superintendent Josh Starr in 2012. (By Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Two education leaders in the greater Washington region — which for the purposes of this post includes Baltimore — are believed to be among those under considering to become the next chancellor of the largest school district in the country, New York City.

Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio has said he will hire someone who has been an educator to run the school system, unlike the three people who were picked by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run the district during his three terms.

According to people familiar with the thinking in the de Blasio camp, those expected to be considered for chancellor are Joshua Starr, superintendent of the high-achieving Montgomery County Public School system in Maryland, and Andrés Alonso, the former chief executive officer of Baltimore City schools, who resigned last summer after six years. Another name mentioned as a candidate is Kathleen Cashin, a member of the New York State Board of Regents.

Starr came to Montgomery County in 2011 from Stamford, Conn., where he ran the schools for six years. He has become a national figure in the education reform debate, taking a leading role in calling for a moratorium on high-stakes standardized testing and urging reformers to “stop the insanity” of  evaluating teachers according to student test scores because it is based on “bad science.”

Under Alonso, test scores rose in city schools, as did graduation rates, but his administration was hit by problems, including concern about how money was being spent. The Baltimore Sun disclosed, for example, that Alonso’s driver earned more money, with overtime counted, than the state’s governor.

During the mayoral race, de Blasio talked about a vision for education reform unlike the one that Bloomberg has presided over during his tenure. While Bloomberg made standardized testing the focus of accountability systems and expanded the number of charter schools, de Blasio is less enamored with such a reform agenda.

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · November 8, 2013