Friday, December 03, 2010

Meet Shael Polakow-Suransky: DOE’s new second-in-command

Here's an insightful profile of Polakow-Suransky by GothamSchools:

Here are four things to know about the city's new educator-in-chief, who will serve as second-in-command to Black's manager-in-chief:

1. His theory of change revolves around improving "instruction," which is a different way of thinking than many people at Tweed.

Many officials in Joel Klein's administration, including Klein himself, emphasize structural changes to improve the New York City schools. They favor policies such as closing down struggling schools, offering pay bonuses to educators whose students improve their performance on tests, and giving more power to principals to determine their own curricula and tests.

Suransky approaches improving education policy from the opposite direction.  Suransky looks through the lens of instruction — that is, the relationships between teachers and students — rather than starting with incentives or organizational structures.

"What [Suransky] is particularly strong at is at taking [classroom] experience and translating it into useful information for decision-making at a policy level," said Garth Harries, who oversaw Suransky in the city's New Schools Office and then worked as a colleague as Suransky advanced in the department.

…2. His own education was at progressive public schools and at Brown.

…3. He taught math and history for six years before founding one of the first small Bronx high schools.

…4. He is obsessed with making better tests, and is working on the national effort to build them.



Meet Shael Polakow-Suransky: DOE's new second-in-command

by Maura Walz

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