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August 15, 2006


John  Powers

I live near Pittsburgh and enormously fond of my home, so whenever I see Pittsburgh I cheer.

Perhaps Mark Roosevelt, the Pittsburgh Schools superintendent is non-traditional. But your comment: "Or perhaps an opportunity to rekindle something more primal, more powerful, more full of potential." reminds that there's something a tradition of the non-traditional in the American public education system; we've always been reaching for something just beyond our grasp. And Mr. Roosevelt seems in line with that tradition.

Mark Roosevelt has made appearances all over town, at the universities, foundations, churches, and on the street. He's engaged school district employees at all levels. What's really gotten people's attention is that he seems to be listening. Plans have been adjusted and problems raised by ordinary people addressed. Not that everyone's satisfied, but everyone knows the problems aren't easy to fix.

In the Post-Gazette article you linked to the Philadelphia principle Andrea Kirwin comes across as a real hero: a principle not afraid to knock at the door of the home a truant student. When school leaders are willing to roll-up their sleeves, others are encouraged to as well.

I'm down on the cult of the CEO--Roosevelt's base pay of $165,000. mitigates one of my major peeves about CEOs--still, I've got to hand it to him: he's a change agent. And what you do, Christian, is to remind us all that we can be agents of change too. Bravo!


Hey, pay ain't the issue. Sure, any CEO (aka 'superintendent') worth their salt does more by 8am than you can do in a week, and their head is constantly on the public chopping block...so I'm okay with $165K when some teachers clear $100k thanks to 'subbing' and not taking days off so they accrue for years. But the better alternative is to ask a Superintendent not to make more money than their highest paid teacher. Do that? And you'll see a minor revolution begin to form!

As for the principal going door to door, I've worked and am friends with guys/gals like that...and they are true heroes. Well stated!

Ultimately, as you said, it's about empowering true change agents when the overall system is no longer viable in status-quo speed. True, true!

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