Looks like November is Kaya Henderson Month in the school reform world. Last week, the D.C. schools chancellor traveled to New York to accept the Aspen Institute Public Leadership Award. Other winners: former New York City schools chancellor Joel I. Klein and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
On Monday, Teach for America founder and chief executive Wendy Kopp, via Forbes, named Henderson one of the seven most powerful educators in the known universe (actually just the world, and Kopp said she chose them because they are “not often in the national spotlight”).
“Kaya stepped up to the chancellorship in a rancorous environment and brought the whole community’s teachers, principals, parents, and civic leaders together in the process,” Kopp wrote. She might get some pushback on that, especially from parents and community leaders in wards 7 and 8, who are unhappy about Henderson pulling the plug — temporarily, at least — on the school system’s Parent and Family Resource Centers in those communities.
Henderson, who has made a point of keeping a lower national profile than her predecessor, Michelle A. Rhee, said there’s been no change of plan. “Definitely odd,” she said in an e-mail. “Here’s hoping for a quiet December!”
The two announcements are reminders of Teach for America’s huge footprint in this world. Walter Isaacson, president and chief executive of the Aspen Institute, also chairs TFA’s national board of directors. And four of the “seven most powerful” educators selected by Kopp, including Henderson, happen to be TFA alums.