Catalyst Chicago asked readers to submit names of candidates they believe would be a good pick to run the Chicago Public Schools. We’re posting short profiles of these candidates and are inviting other readers to share their views in our “Comments” section.

Catalyst Chicago asked readers
to submit names of candidates they believe would be a good pick to run
the Chicago Public Schools. We’re posting short profiles of these
candidates and are inviting other readers to share their views in our
“Comments” section.

Irvin Scott, Boston Public Schools

Experience: A former English teacher and principal, Irvin Scott is currently the chief academic officer and oversees all regional superintendents and schools in the Boston Public Schools. Scott previously was the district’s high school academic superintendent, and he co-chairs Harvard University’s Urban School Leaders Summer Institute. In 2006 he was selected into the Urban Superintendents Program at Harvard University. Scott has master’s degrees from Temple University and Harvard University, where he is wrapping up a doctorate.  He was a member of the 2010 class of The Broad Superintendents Academy.


Why he’s a good choice: As a principal, Scott led a team of teachers and administrators to reform a 3,200-student high school into eight small learning communities, as well as to develop core curricula for all students. (The small school model, however, has since been largely abandoned nationally as a strategy.)  He also directed Project Forward Leap, a non-profit academic enrichment program for urban middle school students in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Lancaster, Pa. He has made improvement in teacher practice and student performance a core part of his focus as an administrator. He’s known to connect well with the community, which could be a plus given the current fractious relationship between CPS and many community, grass-roots groups.


Why Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel might select him—or not: He would bring exceedingly strong credentials as both a teacher and an administrator, especially in a large urban district that has a demographic similar to that of CPS.  Boston Public Schools has an 85 percent minority population and 72 percent of students receive free or reduced cost lunch and it’s struggling to bring down its high school dropout rate. As co-chair of Harvard University’s Urban School Leaders Summer Institute, he possesses insights about urban school leadership that someone from a smaller, more suburban-oriented environment might not have. Emanuel could score points with many CPS parents who may applaud his putting an African-American at the helm of the district.

David Lussier, Austin (TX) Independent School District

Experience: David Lussier is the executive director of educator policy of Austin Independent School District in Texas. He also directs Austin’s Strategic Compensation Initiative. He earned his National Board Certification as a high school history teacher in Massachusetts and was named the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year in 2000. Lussier has been a White House Fellow and associate director of domestic policy in the Clinton and Bush administrations, participating in the development of the No Child Left Behind Act. After leaving the White House, Lussier joined the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, serving as a policy adviser to its president and later as research director. Lussier has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, a master’s in teaching from Boston University and a master’s in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Why he’s a good choice: Those who know him describe him as “incredibly balanced and smart and level-headed.” He has an impressive resume and understands National Board Certification. He runs Austin’s TAP (Teacher Advancement Program), a performance-compensation initiative that in many districts is controversial.  He has a keen instructional vision.

Why Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel might select him—or not: Given how important the ideas behind teacher performance and rethinking compensation are, he would bring a wealth of experience around those two hot issues. He also has lots of classroom and administrative experience, but has never run a big district before and has flown under the radar. Emanuel may be more interested in bringing in a high-level superstar.

Previous profiles:

Terry Mazany, interim CEO Chicago Public Schools

Robert Runcie, Chief Area Officer

Timothy Knowles, University of Chicago, Urban Education Institute

John White, New York City Schools Deputy Chancellor

Jose Torres, Elgin School Superintendent

Jo Anderson, Jr. , senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Andres Alonso, CEO, Baltimore City Schools

Yvonne Brandon,superintendent, Richmond, Va., public schools

Donald Feinstein,executive director, Academy for Urban School Leadership

Diane Ravitch, education historian and author 

Michelle Rhee, former chancellor, Washington, D.C. Public Schools

Peter Gorman, superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools 

Barbara Eason-Watkins, former CPS chief education officer

Michael Milkie, superintendent and CEO of Noble Street Charter Network

Greg Richmond, president and CEO, National Association of Charter School Authorizers

Linda Darling Hammond, Stanford University

Thomas E. Darden, Jr., School District of Philadelphia

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