The Partnership for Inner-City Education announced today that Kathleen Porter-Magee has been named its superintendent and chief academic officer. This is such a terrific match, and I’m completely thrilled for everyone involved.
The Partnership is one of a growing number of organizations that are, collectively, brightening the future of urban Catholic schooling after years of steady decline. For 50 years, inner-city Catholic schools have been shutting their doors, primarily for financial reasons, despite an extensive body of academic research showing how valuable they can be for low-income kids and communities.
To address issues of financial sustainability and academic performance, a handful of organizations are reimagining the governance and operations of Catholic schools, borrowing the highly successful network structure from charter-management organizations. The Partnership, which has supported Catholic schools in New York City for more than 20 years, signed a landmark agreement with the Archdiocese in 2013, giving the organization authority over six schools in Harlem and the South Bronx. They are now, like Cristo Rey, a group of Catholic schools functioning as a unit but outside the traditional diocesan and parish system.
The Partnership couldn’t have found a better leader than Kathleen (who writes about her new gig here). She has a great deal of Catholic schools experience, having started her career as a Catholic school teacher and later working in the office of education at the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. She also served as an executive with the high-performing charter network, Achievement First. Kathleen joins the Partnership from the College Board, where she’s served as the senior advisor for policy and instruction.
Readers of this blog probably know Kathleen best from her exceptional writing about standards, assessments, curriculum, and more via Fordham’s Common Core Watch. She’s distinguished herself amid the CCSS din with thoughtful, insightful, and deeply informed commentary. You’d be hard pressed to find someone more knowledgeable and levelheaded about the practices and public policies required for successful classrooms.
On a more personal note, I’m very happy for Kathleen, who’s not just a colleague but a friend. Long before she was the Kathleen Porter-Magee, she was the same admirable person—a smart, funny, kind, and dedicated education professional working to provide disadvantaged kids with better school options. She’s not only perfectly suited for this position; she also deserves all the opportunities for influence it will provide. Happily, she is committed to continuing to blog for Fordham, sharing on-the-ground insights to be gleaned in her new role—a valuable service for the field, not just Catholic schools.
I’m also excited for the Partnership, because it has found a top-flight leader who will help these six schools (and maybe more down the road) continuously improve their work. I’m hopeful that this network will emerge as an exemplar of urban Catholic schooling—the highest expectations, field-leading academic results, unparalleled faith and character formation, and much more. With Kathleen’s leadership, the Partnership has the chance do something groundbreaking: preserve the best of inner-city Catholic schooling, integrate the lessons of high-performing high-poverty urban public schools, and import charter schooling’s network model into private education.
I’m convinced Kathleen and the Partnership’s team are going to help thousands of boys and girls in the years to come.