Our nation's founders believed that high-quality public education is a requirement for a robust and functioning democracy. This week examines current efforts that are dramatically improving the performance of public education in the United States. Specifically, we look at the impact of talented and motivated superintendents, leadership training for principals, trends in teaching teachers, and innovations in curricula.
We discuss the responsibilities, interactions, and support from national, state, and local government leaders, parents and grandparents, and local community groups. We leave with a better understanding of what is required and what is working, and what each of us can do to fulfill the goal of greater academic excellence for students in our schools.
Since his appointment as superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools in August 2005, Mark Roosevelt has pursued an aggressive reform agenda called "Excellence for All." Four years later, the district has a comprehensive plan to maximize effective teaching that is one of only four such efforts to win support through a highly competitive $40 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Under Roosevelt's leadership, the district has implemented a nationally recognized program to recruit, train, support and compensate principals as instructional leaders; a new, more rigorous curriculum; and several new school models, including eight "Accelerated Learning Academies" for many of Pittsburgh's most underserved students. In 2009, PPS became the largest district in Pennsylvania to achieve "Adequate Yearly Progress" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, meaning the district met all of its targets on high school graduation and academic performance.
Roosevelt is also the founder of The Pittsburgh Promise, a remarkable initiative that has already raised $150 million to guarantee as much as $10,000 per year in college scholarships for all PPS graduates who meet certain academic standards.
Before arriving in Pittsburgh, Roosevelt had established himself as a public-sector change agent with a proven track record in educational reform. As chair of the Massachusetts State Legislature's Education Committee, Roosevelt co-authored and steered to passage the Education Reform Act of 1993, landmark legislation providing the equitable resources and accountability measures necessary for school improvement.
In 1994, Roosevelt was the Democratic nominee for governor of Massachusetts.
Roosevelt is a graduate of Harvard Law School and received his bachelor's degree from Harvard College. He has taught political science at Brandeis University, where he was also the director of the Gordon Public Policy Center, and currently teaches a course on the intersection of American history and public policy at the Heinz Graduate School of Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.