Paul Vallas, a controversial and acclaimed school turnaround specialist, will take over as superintendent of the state-run Bridgeport schools, the state’s largest district.
Vallas, who rose to prominence in Chicago, has also lead Philadelphia and New Orleans schools. In New Orleans, he was credited with dramatic gains in student performance and with transforming the district into one that emphasizes school choice and charter schools.
Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, who was instrumental in bringing Vallas here, said he will work in Bridgeport for at least a year:
Paul is relentless in his pursuit of student improvement and he is on of the most capable leaders in public education today. It is truly marvelous that Paul has made the choice to come to our state and work in our state’s largest city.
Vallas told veteran education writer Dale Mazzacappa in EducationNext in 2008, when he arrived in New Orleans that:
What happens with turnaround superintendents … is that the first two years you’re a demolitions expert. By the third year, if you get improvements, do school construction, and test scores go up, people start to think this isn’t so hard. By year four, people start to think you’re getting way too much credit. By year five, you’re chopped liver.
Vallas could not be reached for comment.