Chris Barbic leaps at chance to help Tennessee's lowest-performing schools
13) A very nice profile of ed warrior Chris Barbic:
As the new superintendent of the state's Achievement School District, Barbic is co-managing five of the state's lowest-performing schools in Memphis and Chattanooga this year. Next year, he will have to decide if he wants to continue the co-management — working with the schools' current districts — turn the schools into charters or take them over completely.
"If you had asked me a year ago if I thought the state running a school was a good idea, I'd have laughed," said Barbic, an Atlanta native who graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1992.
"The state is often seen as a big bureaucracy, basically a 'did we fill out the right paperwork and check all the right boxes' operation. There is a lot of skepticism in the work we do. We have to gain street cred if we're going to do this well."
To get there, Barbic plans to use the tools he gained in Houston as the founder of YES Prep Schools, a charter school system with a focus on public service. At YES, which stands for Youth Engaged in Service, students are required to gain admission to a four-year university to graduate.
"At YES, the real focus is on the people," said Barbic, who said he left the organization for the greater challenges offered in Tennessee. "Basically, we were betting the farm on talent. A lot of great people did a lot of great work every day. That's where it starts."