A major school reformer’s ‘Nixon goes to China’ moment

Valerie Strauss:

A discussion on school reform in New York took a surprising turn this week when Paul Vallas, a pioneer of the current era of school reform, said, “We’re losing the communications game because we don’t have a good message to communicate.”
That’s something for Vallas, who is now superintendent of the public schools in Bridgeport, Conn., (earning $234,000 a year, according to this article). As a reputed expert in turning around failing school systems, he led the school districts in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans and was a champion of many of the reforms that critics believe are leading to the privatization of public education and doing nothing to actually improve schools.
Vallas has been at the forefront of modern school reform. For example, back in 2002 when he was in charge of Philadelphia’s schools, he oversaw what at that time was the largest exercise in allowing private managers — including for-profit companies — to run public schools. In New Orleans, where he was hired after Hurricane Katrina to supervise the reconstruction of the ravaged school system, he oversaw the creation of a collection of charter schools. Many of them were staffed with Teach For America recruits, who are given five weeks of summer training before being sent into classrooms with high-needs students.