Goodbye, Rudy

One of the things people who follow big-city schools quickly realize is that there is a great tension surrounding superintendents who are brought in to ...
by | August 27, 2008

One of the things people who follow big-city schools quickly realize is that there is a great tension surrounding superintendents who are brought in to repair failing schools, but who generally run into resistance from people who don't like the nature of the new program. Superintendents of urban districts have quite a short shelf life as a result.

Rudy Crew's time in Miami is about to expire. Crew is one of the nation's best-known superintendents but he's made an enemy of the local teachers union due to budget cuts. They almost managed to convince the school board to fire him a few weeks ago, but he survived on a 5-4 vote.

But he won't survive the next one. One of Crew's champions on the board lost her seat yesterday to a principal who had the union's backing. It's not clear how this will all play out or on what timetable, but it's clear that Crew won't be around much longer.

This has happened before. To cite one well-known example, Alan Bersin, a combative superintendent in San Diego, lost his job after the union managed to oust his supporters on the board. The fact that school board members can so easily fall prey to a well-organized and motivated interest group is one of the main arguments for mayoral control of schools.

There's no way that the current darling of the school-reform crowd, Michelle Rhee, would survive long on the job here in DC if Mayor Adrian Fenty weren't her solitary boss.

I have a feature about teachers unions and their influence and desires coming up in the September issue of Governing.

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