short list

Eva Moskowitz floated for education secretary, and New York City teachers union president digs in

PHOTO: Monica Disare
Eva Moskowitz of New York's Success Academy

With Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz reportedly in the running to become President-elect Donald Trump’s education secretary, the head of New York City’s teachers union is preparing for a fight.

“Let the fun begin,” said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, speaking at a union forum on Wednesday.

Moskowitz, a Democrat who heads New York City’s largest charter network, has not commented publicly on speculation that she is being considered for the top federal education position, and a spokeswoman for Success Academy did not respond to requests for comment.

But Moskowitz met with Trump in New York on Wednesday, Politico reported.

That the charter school mogul would be considered for the job “shows you where they’re headed,” Mulgrew said of Trump’s education agenda.

Moskowitz has been a leading — and often bruising — critic of New York City’s education department. Her network, which has grown to 41 schools and roughly 14,000 students in four boroughs, is meant to prove that publicly funded but privately managed schools can outperform those run by a government bureaucracy — precisely the vision that Trump and his vice president-elect, Mike Pence, have put forth.

Success regularly posts some of the strongest test scores in the city. But the network has also weathered criticism over its discipline practices and accusations that its schools do not serve their fair share of high-needs students. It is under federal investigation after parents filed a complaint alleging that Success discriminated against students with disabilities.

Mulgrew said that criticism makes Moskowitz unfit to lead the nation’s schools.

“Education reform 101: I’m going to take the best and therefore my school is the best, and forget about those who can’t perform,” he said. “That’s not the goal of education in this country, and that’s what Eva Moskowitz is about.”

Also on Donald Trump’s short-list for the next education secretary: Tony Bennett, who ran schools in Florida and Indiana before being voted out of office there; former Washington, D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee; and an Indiana congressman, Luke Messer.

meet the new boss

Nikolai Vitti has been chosen to lead Detroit schools. Read the application that got him the job

PHOTO: Duval County Public Schools
Superintendent Nikolai Vitti meets with students on the first day of school in Duval County, Florida in 2016. He was selected in 2017 to lead Detroit schools.

In his job application to run Detroit schools, Florida superintendent Nikolai Vitti wrote that he was motivated to apply by his “deep and unwavering belief in urban public education” and his “love” for the city of Detroit.

Vitti, who grew up in in Dearborn Heights but has spent his career working in North Carolina, New York and Florida, wrote that the success of the new Detroit school board “will rest upon its decision to select the right leader who has the vision, track record,experience, commitment, strength and perseverance for the job. I believe that I am that leader who is ready to collaboratively own the success of DPSCD’s future.”

He then lays out his qualifications in a 26-page application that spells out his experience in great detail, including specifics on the work he’s done as superintendent of Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville since 2012 and in his previous jobs. Read the full application below.

The Detroit school board voted last week to negotiate a contract with Vitti, though those contract negotiations won’t start until at least this week due to a challenge from an activist who claims the search process was illegal.

Vitit beat out another finalist, River Rouge Superintendent Derrick Coleman for the job. To read Coleman’s application click here.

And then there were six

Jeffco school board narrows pool for superintendent search

Jefferson County school board President Ron Mitchell. (Photo by Nicholas Garcia, Chalkbeat)

The six remaining candidates for the Jeffco Public Schools superintendent job are all sitting superintendents, the board chairman said Friday.

“I think we clearly will have a difficult decision to make,” said Ron Mitchell, Jeffco’s school board president.

The application for the superintendent of the second largest district in Colorado closed earlier this month. Mitchell said 69 people submitted complete applications.

The Jeffco board voted in January to launch a national search for a new superintendent, six months before the contract with Dan McMinimee, the superintendent at the time, expired. In choosing not to renew McMinimee’s contract, the board cited concerns about the process that a previous board used to hire McMinimee, and members said they wondered if they could find a better leader.

In launching a new search for a superintendent, the board has expressed a desire to hire someone who is experienced. McMinimee came to the Jeffco job having been an assistant superintendent in the Douglas County School District, but without experience as a superintendent. In feedback gathered by a search firm hired by the district, community groups rated leadership and people skills as important traits for the job.

Last month, McMinimee left the position after reaching an agreement with the board to redesign his role with the district until his contract expires at the end of June.

The search firm, Ray and Associates — the same one used to find McMinimee — narrowed down the candidates to 11. At their board meeting Thursday night, Jeffco school board members reviewed the contenders until past midnight until they narrowed down the pool to six.

The remaining candidates will be interviewed in private by the board starting Wednesday. Only when candidates are designated finalists is the district required to identify them publicly.