School Choice & Charters

New Mississippi K-12 Chief Carey Wright Has D.C., Md. Background

By Andrew Ujifusa — September 26, 2013 2 min read
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Mississippi has selected Carey Wright to be its new state superintendent of education, the state announced Sept. 25. Wright will take over for interim superintendent Lynn House. The state has lacked a permanent superintendent since last summer, when Tom Burnham departed. Wright will officially take over in the state Nov. 1, the department said.

Wright was previously the chief academic officer in the District of Columbia’s school system and the assistant superintendent for special education and student services in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. Gulf Coast Live reported that she presently serves as CEO of a consulting firm, Wright Approach Consulting, and according to her LinkedIn profile she’s also a consultant at the Public Education Leadership Project at Harvard University, which seeks to determine how management techniques can help public schools succeed.

“The Board felt that Dr. Wright possessed all of the qualities we were seeking in the next state superintendent of education. She has a track record of strong leadership, instructional expertise and a commitment to ensuring all students achieve at high levels,” said Hal Gage, the vice chairman of Mississippi’s state board and the chair of the search process, in a statement. “Mississippi has made great strides in improving education over the last few years, and we believe we have selected the right person to build on this achievement.”

Wright said she feels Mississippi has a great deal of “untapped potential” and that she is determined to build the “finest educational system in our nation.”

Over the past 15 months or so, the state has seen significant change and turnover in its educational system, beginning with Burnham’s departure. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a K-12 advocacy group that lobbies for greater school choice and accountability measures, was actively promoting major K-12 policy changes in Mississippi before the start of the 2013 legislative session. Subsequently, the state broke new policy ground this year when it passed a new charter-school law that will allow the state to approve up to 15 charters annually. It will be interesting to see how Wright responds to a policy and political environment in Mississippi that differs significantly from the ones in Washington and suburban Maryland.

Photo (Bryon Houlgrave/Associated Press): Carey Wright, a former public-schools administrator in the District of Columbia and Maryland who now runs a consulting firm, was selected by the Mississippi State Board of Education to be the state’s next superintendent of education. Wright will formally assume the job on Nov. 1.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.