Alonso may be contender for Chicago superintendent post

Tribune reports he has drawn attention of new mayor

March 17, 2011|By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore City schools CEO Andrés Alonso may be a top contender to take the helm of the long-troubled Chicago Public Schools, according to an article published by the Chicago Tribune.

According to the report, Alonso's successes in Baltimore during his near four-year tenure have drawn the attention of Chicago's recently elected mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who has made it a priority of his administration to seek a reform-minded school leader to take over Chicago's struggling school system.

Alonso, whose contract in Baltimore expires June 30, told The Baltimore Sun he does not comment on speculation about job offers from other districts. It was not clear whether Emanuel has contacted Alonso.

For months, the schools chief has been negotiating a new contract with the Baltimore school board amid rumors that his name has come up for various superintendent vacancies across the country.

The school board announced in July — the same month that Alonso became the longest-serving superintendent in Baltimore since 1994 — that it was looking to sign the superintendent through 2014. At the time, Alonso said that while he didn't know when he would sign his contract, he was of a mind that "I'm not going anywhere."

But Emanuel's most pressing challenges for a new superintendent, according to the Tribune, play to some of Alonso's most notable successes in Baltimore.

The Tribune reported that among Emanuel's top priorities would be negotiating a cutting-edge contract for the Chicago Teachers Union, improving test scores, closing a budget gap and addressing deteriorating conditions at neighborhood schools. Alonso has made progress on all those issues in Baltimore.

According to the Tribune, Emanuel has also supported philosophies similar to Alonso's, such as closing failing schools and replacing ineffective principals. Additionally, Alonso's ability to rechart the course of the Baltimore school district has drawn praise from Arne Duncan, former Chicago schools superintendent who vacated the seat to become the U.S. secretary of education, and whom Alonso has called a friend.

Alonso has been linked to many superintendent jobs that have opened in the last year, including the school system in Newark, N.J., his hometown, where he began his teaching career.

"This is but one of many, many rumors that have been linked to Dr. Alonso, and I've probably heard them all," said Neil Duke, president of the Baltimore school board. "I suppose it's a tribute to our district and what has been accomplished in the past few years that these sort of rumors even surface at all."

According to the Tribune, others speculated to be part of Emanuel's short-list for the Chicago superintendent job are Jerry Weast, retired school superintendent from Montgomery County; John White, deputy chancellor in charge of talent, labor and innovation for the New York City Department of Education; and Timothy Knowles, former deputy superintendent of Boston's school system who now heads the Urban Education Institute at the University of the Chicago.

erica.green@baltsun.com

http://twitter.com/EricaLG

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