Admit it. If Baltimore schools CEO Andrés Alonso sat next to you on the subway you probably wouldn’t recognize him.
The Baltimore Sun files an interesting editorial giving Alonso high marks for what he’s acomplished–and for not being Michelle Rhee, whose reform agenda, the paper notes, “is in many ways indistinguishable” from his. Unlike Rhee, Alonso has won “the support of teachers, principals, parents and students as well as virtually the city’s entire political establishment,” the Sun observes.
There’s little doubt that the personal style of both Rhee and Alonso how shaped how their reform agendas have been received, the editorial observes, but notes the only important question is, “Which leadership style is more likely to produce the kind of improvements in student achievement that people in both cities want?”
We’re betting on Baltimore getting there first, if for no other reason than that Mr. Alonso’s style seems to mesh better with the players in a city that also seems to have fewer structural obstacles in the way of reform than comparable urban school systems. It’s freer from political meddling, enjoys a more harmonious relationship with its unions and is outside the national spotlight that magnifies – and possibly distorts – everything a Washington school superintendent does.
To the Sun’s point Claus Von Zastrow at Public School Insights points out that Baltimore should be “thankful for its relative obscurity” but also spanks the national media for positioning Rhee as the last great hope for urban schools. “It’s a bad idea to pin all our hopes on one reformer or a handful of reform strategies,” he concludes. ”It’s even worse to turn one lightning-rod superintendent into the sole standard-bearer for school reform. Let’s not forget that there are other people out there, like Baltimore’s Andres Alonzo, Aldine‘s Wanda Bamberg or Atlanta’s Beverly Hall, who can help light the way forward for urban schools.”
Two more supes you probably wouldn’t recognize on the train.