School & District Management Opinion

Finding The Hidden Gems In The System

By Alexander Russo — May 22, 2007 1 min read
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In even the most troubled big-city school systems, I like to think that there are at least a few folks who have a combination of institutional knowledge, big-picture savvy, and organizational and interpersonal skills to get useful things done.

Sometimes these gems are old hands who have been in the system forever and somehow managed not to get crushed or narrowed or made mean. All they need is to have their energies and inner entrepreneur unshackled. Sometime they are newcomers, fresh out of biz school or somewhere else who manage to pick up what they need to know about how things really work (and a little humility for those who have come before them) while still pushing for changes that would otherwise not get done. They are generally marked by their ability to work up and down the system -- with the office next door, outside folks, school and classroom staff, and community groups.

However, they are few and far between -- and I know about precious few of them. I know a couple of folks at Chicago Public Schools who seem to fit the model. There’s that new Denver superintendent and his deputy, who some think are a good mix. I hear about some folks inside the NYC Department of Education who might fit that bill. And I remember that there was someone in Philadelphia who got brought in from a school leadership position to do teacher recruitment. But that’s about it. Anyone got any ideas?

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