On April 22nd, almost seven months ago to the day, RPS announced Dr. Dana Bedden would leave his post as RPS Superintendent effective June 30th. RPS had six months from the departure date to recruit, select, and put a new superintendent in place. The original superintendent search timeline was presented during an RPS Board meeting on June 26th with target completion date of September. Ultimately, the board passed a motion made to allow the search committee to extend the timeline to December 1st (if necessary). And now... here we are before December 1st finding out about who the new RPS Superintendent is going to be. As a reminder, right now there is a A TON going on that impacts RPS and it's students. The board is in the midst of finalizing plans to address facilities, the education compact is still getting up and running, the school modernization referendum was passed by voters and is headed to the General Assembly, and the Memorandum of Understanding and associated Corrective Action Plan are in play as well. I believe this is a very exciting time for RPS as there will finally be a permanent superintendent in place so progress can be made on some of the big outstanding topics.
Having researched Jason Kamras extensively, there are a lot of reasons I think we all should be VERY excited to have him working in our school district. That said, not everything and everyone is perfect. There are opinions out there on the internet that would make you think Kamras walks on water but at the same time, there are also scathing criticisms of Kamras and his policies. No matter what, we have to keep this wealth of information in perspective. We are RPS, not DCPS. Whatever any superintendent believes or wants to do will have to be customized to fit RPS needs and resources. In my opinion, the best thing anyone can do is try to understand all sides of the issues at play so we can identify solutions that address our concerns with whatever programs or policies Kamras, the board, and anyone else suggests. When I try to understand something, I take to google and start pulling all types of information from various sources together. To better understand Kamras and where his potential approach could coming from, I was looking for articles published about him, interviews, information about programs he administered, and analysis on the success of the programs.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the compilation of links. Full disclosure, there are a lot of links and I am still working my way through reading all of the content in it's entirety. Oh.... and as always, this is not an entirely exhaustive list. There is always a chance I missed something so feel free to send us links we may have missed.
Who is Jason Kamras?
Jason Kamras graduated from Princeton University in 1995 with a B.A. in public policy and Harvard Graduate School of Education in . Fresh out of college, through the Teach for America program, Kamras became a 7th and 8th grade math teacher at John Philip Sousa Middle school in District of Columbia Public Schools. Kamras was named Teacher of the Year (check out his application) in 2005 and served as an education policy adviser on Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Kamras was hired by (now infamous) DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee to be the Chief of Human Capital where he designed the teacher evaluation system called IMPACT. When Rhee resigned as chancellor in 2010, she was replaced by Rhee-protege and then-deputy chancellor, Kaya Henderson. In June 2016, Henderson resigned ad a few months later, Antwan Wilson was selected to fill the role. Despite the changes in leadership, Kamras remained in DCPS and is currently the Chief of Instructional Practice. The programs Kamras has worked on in DCPS promote paying teachers for performance, teacher evaluations, and teacher training.
These links are variety of opinions and sources ranging from local DC bloggers to academic journals to traditional new media. Some articles are directly related to Jason Kamras while others merely provide context or more information on policies. The links are presented in chronological order starting with the oldest articles first. Of note is this is not an exhaustive list of every article in existence. If there are important bits and pieces I missed, feel free to email me the link!
4/18/2005: Teacher of the Year: "Let teachers teach"
4/29/2005: CSPAN Q&A with Jason Kamras
2/16/2006: Equity of Opportunity for All Children
7/13/2006: A Teacher Learns New Lessons on the Road
January 2007: America's Teaching Crisis by Jason Kamras
11/17/2009: Jason Kamras on IMPACT
7/10/2008: Charlie Rose Show Interview
9/17/2008: Presidential campaign education policies
11/14/2008: Thomas Fordham Institute guest blogger
January 2010: What Makes a Great Teacher?
12/28/2010: Teach for America's Most Influential Alumni
4/11/2013: Michelle Rhee's Reign of Error
4/20/2016: In D.C., 'It's Personal'
9/1/2016: Jason Kamras on Achievement
12/9/2016: Jason Kamras on Leadership
5/30/2017: How DC Schools are Revolutionizing Teaching
August 2017: Hot for Teachers
8/11/2017: Is DCPS really redesigning teaching?
September/October 2017: Has D.C Teacher Reform Been Successful?
2017: Jason Kamras Biography
No date: Testing Teachers