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BUMPS IN THE ROAD LEAD TO A WORTHWHILE DESTINATION: Clifford Janey Named Superintendent of Washington, D.C., Schools

"Where supporters believed him to be determined, cerebral and idealistic, detractors viewed him as stubborn, aloof and impractical,"

After a long search, Washington, D.C., finally announced the appointment of a new superintendent of schools. Clifford B. Janey, formerly an educator in Boston and Rochester, New York, has been signed to a three-year contract. While the selection process has seen “well publicized bumps in the road,” school board member Tommy Wells told the Washington Post, “the destination has been worth it.”

Janey faces, to say the least, daunting challenges. Currently there is no coordinated curriculum for the city’s schools, and standardized test scores are among the lowest in the country. Only 63 percent of students receive their high school diplomas and more than half of the city’s eighth graders read “below basic” according to the National Assessment of Education Progress.

Over a twenty-one-year career in the Boston public school system, Janey rose from a middle school reading teacher to chief academic officer, the system’s top instructional leader. From Boston, he moved to Rochester, serving as superintendent of schools from 1995 to 2002. There, Janey reduced class sizes and supported a one-year mentoring program for newly certified teachers. At the elementary level, he focused relentlessly on literacy; fourth-grade scores rose from 24 to 47 percent over two years. To address the district’s low graduation rate he gave students more flexibility, allowing them three to five years to complete their high school requirements. He also transformed Benjamin Franklin High School-where enrollment had dropped from four thousand to fewer than one thousand-into three career high schools.

However, at the same time, another crisis was brewing within the district. When he left with what the Washington Post described as an “ambiguous legacy,” he also left behind a cash flow crisis that approached $50 million. According to Rochester Mayor William A. Johnson Jr., Janey refused to make cuts prior to the 2001-02 school year. “We could no longer spare the schools,” Johnson told the Post. “We were making cuts in every other department.”

Johnson, who headed the Urban League of Rochester at the time, said he grew frustrated with Janey’s attitude, which he described as ” ‘We are doing God’s work here, trying to educate poor urban children, and if you can’t accept that, then you are obstructing that.’ ” In his defense, Janey said that making cuts in the middle of the school year would have disrupted student learning.

“Where supporters believed him to be determined, cerebral and idealistic, detractors viewed him as stubborn, aloof and impractical,” theWashington Post reported. “But even his fiercest opponents do not question his intelligence and his almost fervent commitment to children and their educational achievement.”

At the event announcing Janey’s hiring, substitute teacher Robert Brannum and William Wilson of the Ward 7 Education Committee said they hoped Janey would make dramatic improvements, but wondered whether individual agendas on the school board and within the school system would allow him to do so, said the Washington Post. “He’s going to have to make some folks mad to be successful,” Brannum said.

Read the complete article at

Become a New Leader!

New Leaders for New Schools (NLNS) is fostering high academic achievement for every child by attracting, preparing, and supporting the next generation of outstanding school leaders for our nation’s urban public schools.

This year NLNS is seeking approximately 110 highly motivated individuals nationwide to become New Leaders principals in Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York City, California’s Bay Area, Memphis, and a new city to be announced in January 2005. Accepted applicants will possess an unyielding belief in the potential of all children to achieve academically at high levels, a record of success in leading adults, knowledge of teaching and learning, and a relentless drive to lead an excellent urban school.

The New Leaders for New Schools application for the 2005-06 program year will become available on November 1, 2004. Priority deadline is December 7, 2004All applications must be submitted online at Questions can be addressed to or (646) 792-1070.


Speak Up Day for Students is Wednesday, October 20, 2004!

The Alliance for Excellent Education is proud to be an Outreach Partner for NetDay’s second annual Speak Up Day for Students. Mark your calendars now for this online event during which students across the country speak out about using technology and the internet. NetDay, a national nonprofit organization, is launching a revised survey this October with an exciting goal to collect input from 500,000 students on the issues that matter to them and to their schools.

Last year’s Speak Up Day survey reached 210,000 K-12 students from three thousand schools in all fifty states as well as Department of Defense Overseas Schools. A national report of the data was shared with local, state, and national decisionmakers including the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and members of Congress.

(See the report or look up your school’s data online at

The Alliance is working with NetDay to make sure that every student has an opportunity to be involved in the landmark collection of student voices this year.

The survey will be open for student input October 11-20. Schools can register starting September 23. More details are available at



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