Detroit Superintendent To Join Edison Project

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Deborah M. McGriff, the frequently embattled superintendent of the Detroit public schools, will step down from that post to join the Edison Project.

Ms. McGriff will help the for-profit educational venture develop "partnerships'' to manage public schools, project officials said in announcing the move last week.

She has given the Detroit school board 30 days' notice.

Last month, the board formed a committee to recommend whether Ms. McGriff's contract should be extended. It expires at the end of June.

As superintendent since July 1991, Ms. McGriff has pushed to expand parents' choice of schools and to "empower'' individual schools to manage their own affairs. The controversial initiatives contributed to a teachers' strike and were a central issue in a school board election last year that changed the makeup of the board. (See Education Week, Oct. 21 and Nov. 11, 1992.)

Ms. McGriff was the first woman to head the nation's seventh-largest school system.

April Howard Coleman, the president of the Detroit board, said in a statement that she wished Ms. McGriff "godspeed'' and that the board's reform efforts would not stop. The members, she said, "have endorsed reform vigorously, have created new reform initiatives almost weekly, and have seen to it that our progress will continue.''

Seeking 'Diverse' Districts

At the Edison Project, Ms. McGriff will work closely with Stephen C. Tracy, who resigned recently as the superintendent of the suburban New Milford, Conn., schools.

Christopher Whittle, the media entrepreneur who launched the project, envisions that it will develop a network of innovative private schools. Last summer, however, project officials said they were shifting its immediate focus to seeking to take over the management of public schools. (See related story, page 16.)

Ms. McGriff said last week that she will help find districts interested in having Edison manage their schools. Her work will not be limited to urban areas, she said.

"The goal is to manage schools in a diverse set of communities,'' Ms. McGriff said.

Asked whether she believes that major districts will be interested, she said she believes there is "a market in every school district for excellent schools.''

Vol. 13, Issue 07

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