Race, Gender, and the Superintendency
Departures of black women spark frank talk of factors making a tough job harder.
The recent resignations of three prominent black female superintendents—Arlene Ackerman of San Francisco, Barbara Byrd-Bennett of Cleveland, and Thandiwe Peebles of Minneapolis—have prompted renewed discussion of the roles race and gender play in the superintendency.
Current and former such leaders said in interviews that grappling with negative assumptions and having constantly to prove they were capable made the already difficult job of being superintendent that much tougher.
“I’ve always had to make sure that at every moment, I’m at the top of my game,” said Ms. Byrd-Bennett, who departed earlier this month after serving seven years as the chief executive officer of the Cleveland school district. “At every meeting, I feel as if I’m going into the courtroom prosecuting or defending someone, and I’d better...
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