Though I’m more familiar with the Chicago story than Philly, I tend to agree with Dana Goldstein’s assessment of the NYT story on Paul Vallas (Can Urban Schools Be “Tamed”?) that Vallas’ record is mixed in previous districts and that the notion that superstar superintendents can transform districts is a misleading one. They can bring energy and get things organized, to be sure. (Vallas did the textbooks in the warehouse thing in 1995, and DC’s Michelle Rhee did the same bit last week.) But they can’t always make things change in the classroom, and often get pulled in so many directions and start so many programs that it all gets watered down over time.
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