School & District Management

Superintendent Shifts Topped District News in 2010

By Christina A. Samuels — December 30, 2010 1 min read
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Readers of District Dossier were quite interested in the New York and Washington districts this year: no surprise, as both urban districts faced tumult after their well-known leaders chose to step down.

The most-read story on the blog this year was when Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the 44,000-student District of Columbia school system, decided to step down after her political patron, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, lost the Democratic primary. In the overwhelmingly Democractic city, losing the Democratic primary is tantamount to losing the election, and Rhee said Vincent C. Gray, now mayor-elect, should be free to pick his own leadership team.

And just a month later, another stunner: Joel Klein announced plans to step down as chancellor of the 1.1 million-student New York district, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Cathie Black, a former publishing executive with no professional education experience, would take his place.

That decision set off waves of discontent among parents and local politicians who felt they had been left out of the decision, but ultimately Bloomberg prevailed and Black is expected to start at the beginning of the year. She will be assisted by Shael Polakow-Suransky, a former principal and deputy chancellor who will be the district’s chief academic officer.

(And of course, we can’t forget the other big departure of the year -- Dakarai Aarons, who ably covered leadership issues for Education Week, left in November.)

But in addition to leadership moves, several other meaty issues also engaged readers this year, from a principal training program championed by former First Lady Laura Bush, to an introduction to the movie “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” to a call for innovative charter schools from Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.

The Top 10 District Dossier posts, by readers:

1. Michelle Rhee Resigns as D.C. Schools Chancellor
2. NYC Schools Chief Resigns, Leaves Lasting Legacy
3. Laura Bush is Unveiling a Bold Principal-Training Effort
4. Bill Gates: Charters Should Lead Innovation
5. ‘Superman’ Documentary Looks at Public Schools’ Ills
6. Survey Finds Limited Familiarity, Success With Turnarounds
7. Rhee Responds to Uproar Over Remarks
8. Lack of Knowledge Stymies Efforts To Stop Bullying
9. Black Male Achievement in a ‘State of Crisis’, Study Says
10. Michelle Rhee’s Future in Doubt After Fenty Loses D.C. Primary

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.