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4 ideas from city school leaders

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Media stories about large metropolitan school districts tend to focus on their problems rather than the effective work they do to help students succeed.

As a former CIO of the Council of City Schools (CGCS) who spent part of my career working in large school systems, I have worked with countless talented, intelligent and inspiring education leaders. Many of these relationships were created through my active involvement with CGCS, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “advocate for urban schools and advocate for urban students through legislation, research and media relations.” The organization, founded in 1956, currently includes 77 of the largest urban public schools in the country.

Recently retired CGCS Executive Director and now Strategic Advisor Dr. Michael Casserly, who has been with the organization for more than 40 years, and its Director of Management Services, Dr. Robert Carlson, who has worked in public education for 60 years, 30 of which he spent at CGCS, he witnessed the tremendous progress made by large school districts. They shared four key insights they gained while working for the organization.

A technological seat at the table

When Dr. Casserly and Dr. Carlson started at CGCS, the technology was in its infancy. Many public urban school districts have now moved the CIO/CTO position from the second or third level of management to the enterprise level. According to Dr. Carlson, this shift in leadership structure was much needed. “Technology plays an important role in achieving interoperability and alignment across the public school district’s five core functions ─ people, products, things, money and information,” said Dr. Carlson.

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