School superintendents’ turnover is no surprise

Richard Carranza in New York City, Austin Beutner in Los Angeles and Janice Jackson in Chicago have recently stepped down in close succession as head of their respective school systems (“Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson to Step Down,” The Wall Street Journal, May 4).  Although the news made headlines in their local papers, it shouldn’t have.

I say that because all three systems, Nos. 1,2,3 respectively, are far too large for anyone to lead. The only way change is ever going to come is if the systems were broken up into more manageable sizes.  Even then reform needs to take place from the bottom up. The latter was the conclusion of the first broad study about the link between superintendents and student achievement by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution.

Enlightened principals, skilled teachers and involved community members are the keys to turning around troubled districts. 

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