One of the fringe benefits of editing District Administration is that I'm able to attend conferences and events and meet in person some of the rock stars of education, as I've come to think of them. Rock star status, by my definition, tends to be conferred upon people who are able to reach a large number of people with their work and, as a result, affect change.
For example, a group of us attended the national conference of the Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators (ALAS) in October. The meeting was charged as the board members and keynotes shared successful practices for reforming the way Hispanic/Latino students have been taught. These students are the fastest-growing demographic across America and a population that is twice as likely to drop out of school as African-American students and four or five times more likely to drop out as white students.
Under the watch of President Carlos Garcia, the very passionate superintendent of San Francisco USD , ALAS is making the necessary headway by focusing on identifying, training and supporting Latino school superintendents, other administrators and educators to act as role models for students.
I also spoke with the ALAS President-elect Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Since Carvalho took over in 2008, Miami-Dade has been a district to watch for its academic programs, innovative use of technology, and best practices put into place not only for the diverse populations in the district, but for family and business engagement. Carvalho believes there is a misconception among some educators that it's the students that need to be fixed, while he feels the problem is actually the system.
Marion Herbert and I also attended the 2010 Broad Prize event last month, where we met the superintendents of the five final districts, proving that large urban districts can improve students' academic levels, even during these times. Gwinnett County Public Schools, the largest district in Georgia, was the winner of the $1 million prize. Led by CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, GCPS in 2009 outperformed other districts in Georgia that serve students with similar family incomes in reading and math at all levels. The district also narrowed the achievement gap between African-American and white students. Between 2006 and 2008, participation rates rose for African-American and Hispanic students taking the SAT, ACT and AP exams.
What have you done to earn rock star status? Let me know.
With warm holiday greetings,