In today’s Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews writes an open letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser begging her to cancel the national search for a Chancellor to replace Kaya Henderson. He writes:
“The alleged stars hired in these fantasy adventures usually have little familiarity with the administrators, teachers, parents, students and power brokers in the school district or have little knowledge of its history. They lack trusted allies. Some of the most valuable people they must work with resent their presence.”
What a perfect choice this would be. In his five years at the job Mr. Pearson has demonstrated a laser focus on improving the quality of the schools his organization oversees. In fact, almost all of the charters graded as Tier 3 institutions on the Performance Management Framework are no longer around. According to the PCSB’s 2015 Annual Report “of 23 schools rated Tier 3 since 2011, 6 have improved and 19 have been closed.” He is used to holding schools accountable for results and yet he is always conscience of the need to extend as much autonomy as possible. In other words he is not a micromanager.
In addition, Mr. Pearson has proven himself to be a skilled administrator. Under his direction, the PCSB has gained a reputation as being perhaps the best at what it does. According to testimony given last year to the D.C. Council by past board chair John “Skip” McKoy “both the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools have recognized D.C. as the strongest charter sector in the nation, and PCSB as a leading authorizer.”
Mr. Pearson already has a strong working relationship with all the major stakeholders in public education in the nation’s capital. The PCSB executive director has had a particularly good rapport with Ms. Henderson, consistently treating her with dignity and respect. He has worked collaboratively with the Deputy Mayor for Education, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, and DCPS on highly successful projects such as the common lottery and the development of equity reports.
Finally, Mr. Pearson values the traditional schools. In a 2015 Washington Post editorial written with Mr. McKoy he stated:
“Right now, the District has the best of both worlds: a vibrant charter sector that offers a wide range of learning models from some of the best school leaders and a strong, improving and growing DCPS that has responded to charter competition by revitalizing its commitment to quality. D.C. schools are nowhere close to perfect. But the current model, with two public school systems pushing each other to be better and cooperating whenever possible, is proving to be the right mix for the District’s schoolchildren.”
In making Mr. Pearson Chancellor we could get a true win-win situation. Someone who knows and revers the major education players in the city, and at the same time, a leader who will try new ways in order to continue the rise in academic achievement demonstrated under Ms. Henderson’s tenure.
The decision for the Mayor is clear and simple.