Tisha Edwards, the Baltimore school system’s chief of staff, May 6 was named interim superintendent for the 2013-2014 school year, as Schools Superintendent Andres Alonso stepped down as superintendent of the Baltimore City Public School System.
“Now you are really going to have a kick-ass superintendent,” Alonso said at the well news conference to announce he was stepping down.
The departing CEO was teary-eyed at the end of a six-year term. He said he will teach at Harvard University’s School of Education and take care of his aging parents in New Jersey.
Edwards, 42, said she is enthusiastic about assuming the role as interim superintendent.
“I am honored and, as my great aunt would say ‘tickled pink,’ to be chosen as a successor of Dr. Alonso,” Edwards said. “The thing that brings me here in this moment is my love for children. And I ask that everyone that is here to join me and support me in this wonderful opportunity that we have to take reform to the next level.”
Edwards’ career in the school system was propelled by her appointment in 2003 as founding principal of the Baltimore Freedom Academy, a charter middle and high school on Lombard Street. The school is being closed amid budget cuts.
“Her contributions to this school were immense,” said Charles Webb Jr., business manager at Baltimore Freedom Academy. “She provided an opportunity for young minds to be molded and her love of the children is just as strong today as when it started.”
Edwards would not say if she wants to be the permanent superintendent.
Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, said while there are still many pressing issues that need to be addressed in the schools, Edwards is a good selection for the transition.
“I don’t think there is anyone else who knows the system as well as she does,” said English. “She understands the relationship between employee and management. She understands you have to work alongside your employees.”
English applauded Edwards’ work in helping to implement the new collective bargaining contract with the schools which allows teacher pay increases based on classroom performance instead of tenure.
Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, chair of the education committee, said she Alonso is leaving a solid team in place.
“I am very sad that he is leaving, but I can understand him wanting to take care of sick parents,” said Clarke. “He leaves behind a good team that we will have until it assumes new leadership.”
Edwards said her goal for the next school year is to continue to push for rebuilding crumbling school infrastructure and reworking the current teacher evaluation system.
“Our role is to continue to move the work forward that we’ve already started,” Edwards told the AFRO. “We’re not trying to reinvent. We have a really good blueprint for reform. We have a lot of work to do.”
Edwards also said in the next year she will continue to push to improve the quality of instruction. She said the district will be supporting the work of Chief Academic Officer Sonia Brookins Santelises to close the achievement gap between Baltimore schools and its suburban counterparts.